• © Michael Lio

As part of Design Lab #5, the Kunstgewerbemuseum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin presents the exhibition Times of Waste – The Leftover, which emerged from the transdisciplinary research project Times of Waste and was realized for the German context in collaboration with Flavia Caviezel and Mirjam Bürgin of IXDM.

Waste can be a promising resource or an annoying rest, waste is political and social, but above all unavoidable. Waste never disappears completely and always leaves traces. Times of Waste – The Leftover focuses on the life of a smartphone, looking at a typical everyday technology of our time that leaves behind many forms of waste, starting with the extraction of the raw materials it contains.

The transformation processes of the smartphone

The exhibition provides an insight into the Times of Waste research project, which explores the transformation processes of the smartphone and its components using artistic-scientific methods: an object biography maps various transport routes and recycling routes. It tells of economic transformations and new relationships, of local and global contexts. Investigation leads the researchers to landfills and shredders, to repair shops, research laboratories, and to various materials and people.

Where do the leftovers go?

The exhibition setting is an assemblage of various (medial) fragments that interact associatively:

  • a video projection with atmospheric landscapes and near-material perspectives,
  • maps providing an overview of global connections,
  • a tonal essay on the object biography of a smartphone,
  • and a model metal relic.

Its inner life archives the geological-material afterlife produced by smartphone disposal. It testifies to the fact that people in search of raw materials not only remove the earth’s crust, but also fill it with novel waste materials.

Various texts are grouped around the exhibited waste, maps, images and sounds, which investigate the questions: Where do the leftovers go? And what can be done?

The Design Lab series is curated by Claudia Banz, Curator Design, Kunstgewerbemuseum.

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