How to Recycle Ourselves through Art: Rubbish Inspirations in Contemporary Art


  • Fatma Aykanat



Vik Muniz, Jeff Wall, trash, recycle, new materialism, contemporary art


This article will focus on the work of two contemporary artists; of Vik Muniz and Jeff Wall, to discuss the change of material and inspiration in contemporary art and the effects of this change. Both of those two artists take rubbish, human waste, masses of debris which have been thought to be the end-products, useless residue of human actions and civilization, and then they transform those so-called dead materials into original artistic products. In a way, they use those dead materials for an artistic rebirth. Through Muniz’s re-makings of famous art works through junk materials, or by way of Wall’s completely new interpretations of the already existing and useless trash provide both literary and symbolic recycle for the contemporary society.

Author Biography

Fatma Aykanat

English Language and Literature Department, Faculty of Science and Letters, Bulent Ecevit University

Ph.D. student


Adams, Virginia. "Illusion and Disillusionment in the Works of Jeff Wall and Gerhard Richter: Picturing (Post)Modern Life." PhD Diss. University of Maryland, 2007.

Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.

Bardini, Thierry. Junkware. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. DOI:

Bennet, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

Coole, Diana and Samantha Frost ed. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010. DOI:

Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983.

Fried, Michael. “Jeff Wall, Wittgenstein, and the Everyday.” Critical Inquiry 33 (2007): 495–526. DOI:

Iovino, Srenella and Serpil Oppermann. “Material Ecocriticism: Materiality, Agency and

Models of Narrativity.” Ecozon@ 3, 1 (2012): 75–91.

Marland, Pippa. “Remaindering the Material Ecology of Junk and Composting.” Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism 18, 1 (2014): 1–8. DOI:

Stein, Leo. The A-B-C- of Aesthetics. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1927.

Sullivan, Heather I. “Dirt Theory and Material Ecocriticism.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 19, 3 (2012): 515–531. DOI:

Yaeger, Patricia. “Editors Column: The Death of Nature and the Apotheosis of Trash; or Rubbish Ecology.” PMLA 123, 3 (2008): 321–338. DOI:

Waste Land. Dir. Lucy Walker. Almega Projects & O2 Filmes, DVD, 2010.




How to Cite

Aykanat, F. (2014). How to Recycle Ourselves through Art: Rubbish Inspirations in Contemporary Art. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (5), 11–20.