Edmonton waste management spends $30K on trash-themed art project
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018 9:05AM EST
An Edmonton-based artist is starting a trashy new project.
Leanne Olson is beginning her stint as the first artist-in-residence at the city’s waste management centre. The six-month assignment will give her full access to the sprawling, stinking 600-acre facility.
Olson’s visual art will capture a behind-the-scenes look what happens after the city’s garbage is hauled away. She said she hopes to use Edmonton’s Waste Management Centre as a backdrop to explore concepts such as material consumption and the root causes of waste.
“It’s really unique,” she told CTV Edmonton on Tuesday. “I love working with the environment, the landscape or the waterscape as a subject. To be able to have the whole site as a subject is really exciting.”
Olson’s previous work has focused on changing environmental conditions. Her photography subjects include disappearing lakes and sulphurous streams in Alberta.
Her residency comes as the City of Edmonton faces tough questions about how it stashes its trash. A recent audit revealed more waste handled by the facility is ending up in landfills, costing taxpayers more money.
Olson will receive $30,000 for her work. Michael Robertson, contract manager for the Materials Recovery Facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, said he appreciates the poor optics of spending money on art while operational issues are in the spotlight. He insists the issues are not at odds.
“[Olson’s payment is] not funded through the operating budget. It’s funded through the arts council,” he said. “So even though the timing is coincidental in this case, they are two very separate subjects.”
Olson plans to share some of her work on social media ahead of an exhibit in this summer. Robertson said he is excited to see Edmonton’s garbage on display in a gallery.
“It will be interesting to see what she chooses to pursue,” he said. “There are so many opportunities. She can really go different directions with the time that she has here.”
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson