beached, 2014
beached, 2014 – 5,494 discarded grocery bags made into rope filled with plastic bottles found in the streets of Brooklyn.

There is a growing landscape of discarded plastic. In many urban cities this accumulation of plastic, particularly bottles, gets picked through and collected by Canners, who then sell the materials back to the manufacturer. This garbage picking economic system not only sustains their life but also the environment, by slowing the buildup of those materials into mountains or becoming swirling islands.

A plastic redemption organization in Brooklyn, Sure We Can, Inc., promotes this practice and seeks to make it more accessible. According to their website, “The overall goal of Sure We Can is to remove some of the current hardships that accompany canning; both for those who already use it as a means of survival and for those who would like to do so. Sure We Can was founded in 2007 by Canners themselves…” and “supports the city’s only licensed, not-for-profit, homeless-friendly redemption center.”

“beached” was made possible in part by the efforts of these Canners who collected the materials that comprise the guts of this project. Still, much of this plastic cannot be sold back to manufacturers, and is inevitably condemned to waste.

Please join me for a critical reflection on the practice of canning and other alternative economies that might combat the rapid accumulation of what we praise as convenient.

Video Documentation of the six week process























Special Thanks to:

Parul Verma for being the best Intern. I could not have completed this without her.

Thom Shapiro for Camera Work and learning the ways of the Canner

Yazz Meen for endless support: garbage picking, bag ripping & laughter.

Andy Wellington for Camera work

SeoKyeong Le Yoon for moving a mountain without hesitation

Krista LaBella for invading Willoughby Hall

Whitney Ramage for the most amazing Ginger Cookies

Mathew Hance for diving into a mess with me

Emily Robertson & Kylie Racker for being everyone’s favorite

Ana Martinez de Luco of Sure We Can, Inc.

Christina Salvi of Grow NYC

Vitaliy Piltser of Grow NYC

Carolyn Schaeberle of CSDS for spreading the word

Eadaoin Quinn of SIMS Recycling for all the references

Christopher Verstegen for allotting all the space

Gerardo (Jerry) Gonzalez for being one of the most benevolent people I’ve met.

Thanks for the bag, ripping good time:

Annie Robertson

Nazanin Noroozi

Melissa Beck & her friend Doug

Serry Park

Julie Park

Minji Jung

Lu Zhang

Geddes Levenson

Mathew Zaccari

Claire, Bridget & David

Alexis Fidetzis

Bianca Hildenbrand

Jessica Adams

Jess Hughes

Tiffany McCullough

Bryan Hutchison

Lucio Lionetti

Terry Huber

Ian Schwartz

Thank you everyone that donated, not previously noted:

Miriam Medina

Lorenzo of Tepango

Colombine Zamponi

Adrian Tone

Ye Ji & Yipe Wen

Ma Fabiana Assenza Bonet

Louise Eastman

Macklen Mayse

Sarah Shebaro

Anna Shukeylo

Linda Francis

Deshawn Dumas

Alexia Cohen-Tortoledo

Laura Lighty

Carl Zimring

Jen Potter

Ada Potter

Aseel AlYaqoub

Sheila Pepe

I would also like to thank everyone in the Basement for putting up with the mountain of garbage, not to mention the odor. No thanks to Pratt facilities for giving me one hour to move it, or else.