Michael Schmelling

Bucket Rider Galery

In 2003, photographer Michael Schmelling began to accompany crews from the private hygiene task force Disaster Masters as they blitzed the homes of obsessive- compulsive hoarders in New York City and Yonkers with the aim of sorting through and reorganizing or disposing of mountains of accumulated trash. Sometimes invited in by the hoarders themselves, but also by loved ones, social workers, co-op boards, or landlords, Disaster Masters launches fast, immediate assaults on chronically overstuffed domestic environments, and offers counseling and aftercare. Schmelling photographed some of the places he cameacross, rooms filled with mounting piles of apparent rubbish that threatened to choke its owners, illustrating a problem that the Disaster Masters call “perma-clutter,” brought on by acute “disposophobia.”

But Schmelling is not an in-house documentary photographer. He avoids the before-and-after

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