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Image: via Pantherhouse

Real Life is Rubbish, 2002

British-born and -based artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster skilfully skirt the boundaries between beauty and the shadowier aspects of humanity, playing with our perceptions as well as our notions of taste. Many of their most notable pieces are made from piles of rubbish, with light projected against them to create a shadow image entirely different to that seen when looking directly at the deliberately disguised pile.


Image: pashasha

Dirty White Trash (With Gulls), 1998

The photo above shows White Trash (With Gulls), one of Webster and Noble’s earliest trash-based pieces. Six months’ worth of household waste plus a pair of dead seagulls comprise the heap of refuse. It’s no accident that it took the couple a further six months to make the piece, during which time they were eating and consuming – as you do. On the wall, the shadow figure self-portraits of the artists take a break with a cigarette and a glass of wine.

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Image: via Pantherhouse

Real Life is Rubbish, 2002

Less within the domain of disgust, the trash pile in Real Life Is Rubbish is constructed out of studio instead of everyday waste. Tools that the artists would eventually run out of – like a screwdriver that serves as Noble’s nose – and discarded items such as used up brass polish are piled together. Out of the apparent jumble of chaos, two perfectly formed silhouettes of the artists emerge.

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