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PRINT October 2001

ON SITE

Refuse Salon

“THE PURE PRODUCTS OF AMERICA,” according to William Carlos Williams, “go crazy.” The impure ones, he might have added, get thrown away. What happens to American products after they are “consumed” is a question of pressing concern not only for trash haulers, city planners, and environmentalists; it is (or ought to be) for artists and art viewers as well.

This is the premise of “Fresh Kills: The Art of Waste,” an eighteen-artist exhibition opening this month. Its focus is the delightfully named “Fresh Kills” landfill in the New York City borough of Staten Island, which, until its closing in March, was reputedly the largest and certainly the most notorious repository of garbage in the world. Covering 2,400 acres on the island’s western shore, and visible from space with the naked eye—its highest point is about as tall as a twenty-story building—Fresh Kills bears the dubious distinction of

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