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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Projects | IRI THESys | News | An exhibition on anthropology and waste

An exhibition on anthropology and waste

On 5 July 2019, the IRI THESys opens an exhibition on anthropology and waste. The show presents photo and film essays developed by six students in a seminar by THESys member Gretchen Bakke.
Du bist voll in Ordnung

Vernissage: 5 July 2019, 12pm/noon
Location: IRI THESys, FRI 191, 4087

Anthropologist Mary Douglas writing in the 1960s made the claim that: “Where there is dirt there is a system.” (1966:35). But “dirt” is not for her an absolute value, rather it is contextual. Dirt is “matter out of place.”  Conceived of in this way “dirt” can be anything that destroys our perception of a unity or an order. It intrudes, but it is never absolute. Dirt, rather, is “an entity that only comes into being due to our incessant need to create social order amidst a chaotic world that is ‘so continuous and so immense in its variety as to be unhandleable’” (Eriksen and Schober (2017: 323)).

Much of social life is thus about classifying and sorting, processes that give order to the ‘fundamental messiness of things.’ In this class, the students have looked to these processes via the discarded, disgusting, flushed, and carted off excesses of this order. They have practiced finding systems that undergird the infrastructures of cleanliness, they have followed those who value disorder, or who treat it in unexpected ways, they have spoken with those who clean and maintain order, and they have found answers to important questions like: why are the bananas at Netto sold in a plastic bag? Why does upcycling feel snobby and irritating? And where do the chocolate bunnies go after the Easter sales?

In this exhibit students each explore one small element of the world of waste. They use images and words to explore the symbolic and infrastructural systems that organize cleanliness and attempt to contain all the rest(müll).

Students of the Anthropology of Waste Class are: Hana Yoo, Markus Köhler, Marianne Syvsig, Pia Schramm, Mihaly Foki, and Fabian Stenzel and the Professor is Gretchen Bakke.

Poster PDF

Opening hours

The exhibitions "Du bist voll in Ordnung. Anthropology and Waste" runs until 18 October and can be visited every Tuesday from 10-12am.