When Tomoko Takahashi won the £5,000 ($8,300) first prize in the annual EAST International show last year, the British press responded with characteristic outrage. “Artist Cleans Up with Pile of Junk” announced The Daily Mirror, while its main competitor, The London Times, declared Takahashi’s work to be a “Highly Prized Pile of Rubbish.” Both papers were at least partially on the money. The artist’s installation at the Norwich School of Art and Design was just that: one space was crammed full of detritus that had been cleared away by the school; the other contained refuse generated by exhibition technicians as well as the artist herself.

Dispersement of debris may be all the rage in contemporary art, but Takahashi’s obsessive sorting and arrangement of trash into intricate systems and relationships set her work apart from the scatter heritage of Barry Le Va and the more recent hyperbolic

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