Dirty Bandits: I’m a Piece of Garbage

With these phrases Dirty Bandits touches on deep insecurity and a struggle to maintain a sense of self worth. Starting with items from the trash and using humorous text and sign painting, a very traditional medium, it turns them into art. It is a series about salvage in a literal, art historical and emotional sense.

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Photographs by: Gui Machado and Lucas Saugen

via Annica Lydenberg Hand Lettering and Sign Painting | Dirty Bandits

+Commentary: This is a seemingly whimsical series that resonates very deeply because these items, many obsolete highlight the late-capitalism consumerist culture, filled with planned obsolescence and disposable nature of ‘things’ we surround ourselves with, that is tied in so many ways to our sense of self-worth. Do we matter as much if we can’t get the newest gadget?

This set made me think of the person you see on the subway or street who is still rocking a Sony Walkman or Discman. That hint of are they being a hipster, or are they so invariably poor that they can’t afford to upgrade to the rather lackluster system that is MP3s? Is their house filled with vinyl records? The rotary phone really jumped out as signifying that personally, but all of them seemed like items fro a time capsule from last century.

The current colloquialisms combined with retro hand-lettering and painting not only feels relevant, but deeply spiritual. The way we use both of these things to create a sense of handmade sentimentality, retrofitted onto our current experience. One too often laden with technology, augmented reality, or simply plasticity. It always fascinates me how all these “machine made” mid-century things somehow now seem to relate to a simpler time, or the sense that they are more authentic.

It is beyond irony. The way so many people swoon or long for the printed book experience as being “authentic” reading, when it is literally pulp. Machine produced in mass quantities that only now that it is replaced with bytes and pixels, while simultaneously being backlit that we think of them as concrete. They are the late-age industrial byproduct, nothing more. Yet they are so condescendingly invoked as “real” or “authentic” so often as to be laughable. The people asserting this can’t realize what that supplanted, and how utterly soulless it was.

If you go to the antiquarian bookshops, see hand-made books, or visit the rare books collections of a famous library, and see when they were tooled leather and individually handwritten before the advent of the printing press, you see magic. One you could almost correlate to the zine mosaics, even when using the mimeograph (Beat Generation) or the Xerox Machine (Punk) there is the same spirit, there weren’t fonts, so much is handwritten or typed. Or pieced together like a ransom note for shock value and economy.  It had an essence that is very much hand tooled with the late-stage industrial rot, skewering often the way the media saturated lives produced zombie-like slavish fealty.

We love to pine for that mythical time, the nuclear 50s, and its byproduct, increased literacy and a plethora of printed mass-produced books. They really don’t speak however to the new or the now. Where is our new or now? What does it look like, and what will we someday dress up in sincere longing? Will it be a snapchat filter, a Pokemon Go screencap, or a tweet?

What will the future look back on this time and see as quaint is a question that keeps me searching.