Within the exhibit, Poetics of the Discarded, we find portraits of objects “en masse” of all that we, as a society, have chosen to discard and disregard. Lori Goldberg’s artworks serve to open a dialogue about our relationship to our environment. These painterly renderings of toppling scrap heaps remind us quietly: that which we discard doesn’t disappear - and it reappears here, a reminder of environmental impact encrypted within a series of lush paintings.
Over the past year, Lori travelled to different refuse sites across British Columbia, interviewing caretakers of the garbage facilities and photo-documenting each location. There is an intense and towering nature to the scrap heaps painted in Poetics of the Discarded that results from the information gathered at these sites. Goldberg noted her experience of entering each waste-management site, her senses at once bombarded by the sound, smell, and visual impact. With interest in memory and objects, Goldberg was influenced by the mass of collective memory each scrap heap represented. Within the refuse there were mounds and mounds of history: the detritus of days spent, life and death, business, conveniences used, sentimental things broken and more.
In another recent series, Reconstructing Nature, scaffolding scales upward, thin and precarious, almost delicate, against the backdrop of massive evergreen trees. These works point at the precarious relationship between humans and our environment, and how we develop and alter nature. In some of the Poetics of the Discarded images, the scrap heaps are anchored in “our world” amongst the domiciles of suburban life. As she did in the works of Reconstructing Nature, Goldberg brings the relationship of humans and environment into focus - a place where we “keep things” juxtaposed against a wasteland piled-high with all that we have cast-off.
These paintings are not only a creative exploration but also a cathartic response to the overwhelming experience of visiting these refuse sites. Towers of trash and single-use items mixed with other objects once valued: the broken, the rotting, and the psychological and physical weight of objects that have been refused and rejected. For Goldberg, the painterly response is a visceral, tactile and physically releasing experience. Each of these artworks drew her into a state of quiet contemplation that imbued these painted piles of detritus with an innate, intrinsic beauty.
Poetics of the Discarded resurrects the liminal substance of garbage from the after-life of the scrap heaps, and re-contextualizes these scenes by transforming them into culturally valued art-objects (paintings). Refuse sites such as these usually are “out of sight, out of mind,” annexed areas full of banished objects. These are places that we, as a culture, are usually trying to hide and ignore, but in Goldberg’s works they are immortalized and exalted ~ a visual reminder of the ongoing narrative between humans and their environment.