Holy Crap


What: Initiated by Alina Parigger and myself, Holy Crap was a participatory happening where discarded material was turned into divine altars. The space was open to the public and workshops were held for the following groups: artists from Via Kunst ("gallery for homeless, {ex-} addicts, refugees, people with a psychiatric background and others with few resources for creative expression"); artists from Galerie Atelier Herenplaats ("gallery for artists with intellectual disability"); children aged between 4-8 from Stichting Buurtwerkcentrum (an local Rotterdam neighborhood organization dealing with socio-cultural work, youth and activation); and Bestuur en communicatie, Bestuursdienst gemeente Rotterdam.
When: 7th of August - 12th of September 2010
Where: Rot(t)terdam Roodkapje on the Meent, a project situated in the center of Rotterdam.

‘All societies have always wasted, squandered, expended and consumed beyond what is strictly necessary for the simple reason that it is in the consumption of a surplus, of a superfluity that the individual and society feel not merely that they exist, but that they are alive.’ -The Consumer Society by Jean Baudrillard

What does ‘waste’ mean in today’s throwaway society? How has the perception of waste changed since primitive societies? In a sociological sense Baudrillard maintains that in primitive societies wasting became a festive ritual and symbolic act of expenditure creating not only a validation of existence but more importantly a sense of being alive. Squandering, as it seems, played an essential social function, a productive function, of which became the site of creation of values. The fundamental characteristic which essentially differentiates our modern world to primitive societies however, is that in our current system it seems as though we have lost the ‘crucial symbolic and collective significance it could assume in primitive feasting and potlatch’ (an opulent ceremonial feast among North American Indian peoples of Northwest coast, at which possessions are given away or destroyed to display wealth or enhance prestige). With the onset of industrialisation, squandering has now become an obligatory mechanical act devoid of symbolism. The regime of designed obsolescence replaced what was once the ritual of value-making, stripping away the very essence of meaning. Thus the act of throwing away ‘waste’ may be interchangeable with throwing away values. We believe these rejected commodities equate to the loss of symbolic human relations.

Holy Crap, a participatory happening by Alina Parigger (AT) and Amy Suo Wu (AU), was an attempt to recover the discarded values of symbolic exchange, human relations and collective significance by providing a public space made of discarded material. The public was invited to join us in the building of the sacred space. We aimed to re-capture not only the productive function of waste but more specifically a symbolic relationship between the object and action. Partly found, partly donated, we turned the materials into sacrificial offerings enabling transcendence from its physical shell.

A sound piece was also made to add heighten the ritualistic experience. It was a collage of sounds including a field recording of the inner-sphere of pipes in the industrial part of Rotterdam sampled by sound artist, Robert Kroos, and my own field recordings of the recycling process such as the breaking of glass, tearing of paper, smashing of metal bin lids and the movement of plastic containers. The vibration of an Om(heart) tuning fork at 136.10hz was overlaid. Reminiscent of holy songs, we turned these sounds into a meditative chant that was aired, along with lit candles, during our opening and closing show. Created in collaboration with Tim Braakman and Robert Kroos. Click here to hear the sound.

Photos by Alina Parigger and Gianluca Craca.

Opening flyer

Closing flyer