Artists hope to turn dumpsters into New York City gallery space
The Inflato Dumspter project aims to top garbage containers with futuristic, inflatable shells, creating temporary spaces on the streets of New York that enrich their communities and provide places for people to work, learn, and play.
The group plans on turning dumpsters into arts spaces throughout the city. Credit: Department of Urban Betterment
From the galleries of Chelsea and tech startups of Silicon Alley to more unorthodox outlets like storefronts and public parks, art and innovation have many homes in New York City. Now, some New Yorkers want to bring those things to an entirely unexpected place: dumpsters.
Not just any dumpsters, however. The Inflato Dumspter project aims to top garbage containers with futuristic, inflatable shells, creating temporary spaces on the streets of New York that enrich their communities and provide places for people to work, learn, and play.
"We want to create an inflatable space inside of a dumpster out in the street," said Joaquin Reyes, one of the creators of the Inflato Dumpster project. "The main purposes are to serve the community, to redesign space, to provide space for artists, and for different community organizations. We want to teach people and better the neighborhood."
Reyes and fellow co-creator John Locke, who operate as the “Department of Urban Betterment,” hope to deploy the first Inflato Dumpster somewhere in the Upper West Side early next year. For five days, artists, filmmakers, engineers, and the like will exhibit works and lead workshops inside the dumpster, beginning with a class on how to build a simple device that tracks air quality in attendees’ neighborhoods.
Why dumpsters? They're relatively inexpensive, readily available, and can be placed nearly anywhere with a permit from the Department of Transportation, say Locke and Reyes. But there's also a symbolic value.
"We are always looking for overlooked sites that have some potential for transformation," Locke said. "I was drawn to the idea of turning something typically associated with waste and discarded materials into a space for something exciting and new."
Reyes and Locke hope to lead by example, showing their neighbors how using public space in non-traditional ways can benefit local communities. With any luck, onlookers might be inspired to run Inflato Dumpsters of their own.
"For a person who comes in off the street, I would hope that it gets them thinking about how they're accustomed to how space is ordinarily used," Reyes said. "They've never seen a dumpster occupied like this before, and now it has beautiful lights, and work inside, and people hanging out from the community. I think that may open their eyes."
The duo funded their project through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, raising $3,700 from supporters over a 30-day period. Now that they have funding, Reyes and Locke are working on finalizing a location and schedule of contributors and events. They hope to have the dumpster on the streets by March 2014, or “as soon as the weather warms up again,” Reyes said.
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