THE ART OF WASTE: Reflections on the Biodegradable Research Project

WORDS & IMAGES: DORIEKE SCHREURS

At the moment I am working on a research project about the biodegradability of my work. This raises a lot of eyebrows. Some people ask me: Why should you want to destroy your artwork?! Others state that it is a waste of capital. A waste of art, really!


But is it? Considering art as capital in a world where everything is translated into monetary value doesn't ring true for me. My work is inspired by nature, and I have spent the last two years doing research into sustainable alternatives for regular painting materials. My work process is now completely cradle-to-cradle so that everything that I create will eventually biodegrade if wanted or needed. That's why I wanted to watch the process of biodegrading firsthand. 

As I will be writing about more in the coming weeks, my materials come from the earth. In that sense, nature is my capital. I have spent a great deal of time observing and reading about processes in nature. And what I have learned is that there is no beginning and no end—nature is a circle. There really is no waste in nature and everything has a purpose after its lifespan.

This project is about giving back. If nature is my capital—and I believe nature is the only real capital we humans have because if we destroy nature, we are bankrupt—how can watching my work biodegrade be a waste of art? I give my art back to nature so that it can once again be part of the circle of life. I have come to see art as potential waste, and have changed my work process to make sure that, like in nature, there is no waste, only a circle.