Digging Deeper: Field Studies Made Possible by the Waste Stream




RAIR, Filthy Rich, 2016, installation view, The Galleries at Moore. Photo by Joseph Hu.


Situated inside a construction and demolition waste recycling company in northeast Philadelphia, RAIR offers artists studio space and access to more than 350 tons of materials per day. Photo by Caleb Eckert.


Philadelphia Contemporary and Headlong hosted a silent walking tour and interactive performance dialogue at RAIR. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Contemporary.

Recycled Artist in Residency (RAIR) will engage with a team of social scientists in a discovery process to explore a recycling facility as a site for field research on contemporary urban life. Digging Deeper will invite participants to ask what can be learned from considering “waste as artifact” and employing ethnographic, anthropological, and forensic methodologies. The research team will consist of scholars whose areas of focus range from immigration and income inequality to environmental and material culture. They include: Anthony Graesch, associate professor of anthropology, Connecticut College; Jason De León, director of the Undocumented Migration Project; Robin Nagle, anthropologist in residence, New York City Department of Sanitation; and Amy Zhang, PhD candidate, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Jennifer Burris, a curator and writer based in Bogotá, Colombia, will serve as curatorial researcher, identifying opportunities for future cross-disciplinary programming between scholars and artists. The results of the team’s explorations will be shared in a forum, during which the scientists will join local grassroots and industry leaders in a charrette to envision the development of a “Waste Field Studies” project and future programmatic initiatives.

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.