Let’s face it: dumpster diving isn’t for everybody. Most people dread taking out the trash every week, so forget about wading through several feet of other peoples’ leftovers. Though, you might actually be tempted to go dumpster diving if you put a much more literal spin on it. Well, don’t take it too literally. If you dive into these pools you’ll probably end up with a broken spine.
New York artist Louisa Dawson has created portable mini pools from refurbished dumpsters, allowing even priviledged suburban kids the chance to dumpster dive without their mothers suffering aneurysms. While these pools, which you can find at parks, beaches, and other public spaces, give people an opportunity to splash around a bit, that is clearly not the actual point of these art pieces.
At first glance, it’s easy to see that Louisa is making an obvious joke. Dumpster diving — I get it. When you actually step back and consider the pieces in a much wider context, though, you can see the deeper messages that the pieces are trying to get across. The rusty, disgusting exterior is a stark contrast to the clean blue tiles that line the center of the dumpster and the stainless steel ladder hanging over the edge. The exterior reminds viewers of the dumpsters’ origins, yet the children romping in the water are at odds with the destitute and disadvantaged people who typically need to sift through garbage.
It’s an effective message that toys with perceptions of social status by luring people to have a swim. This message is just as relevant in the world of aquatic architecture as it is for social equality. After all, aquatic architecture is inherently connected to green living, all while dredging up questions about the dynamic of public space and the ownership of lakes and seas.
In the past we’ve seen several aquatic projects focusing on recycled objects. While these projects are often quite successful, what is unfortunate about them is that they are typically popular by virtue of the fact that they are artistically unique and include a powerful message. It would be nice if we could reach a point when we use old shipping containers and dumpsters as building materials out of common practice and necessity rather than doing it because we want to make a trendy building with a charged political statement. Hopefully, architectural pieces such as Louisa’s dumpster pool can be accepted as commonplace, clever results of recycling instead of simply artistic pieces that encourage people to imagine such a reality as they go for a dip.