Trash from the L.A. River is upcycled into music, then fashion.

Camera / Edit: Jason Rosencrantz
Music / Model: Jacob Bercovici
Fashion / Design: Justina Blakeney

This short video documents our collaborative and creative engagement with trash from our local river. The trash is used for its sonic qualities, cleaned from the riverbank, then used again to fashion a suit.
Our river is littered with artificial materials making its way out to sea, where it will slowly break down into toxic digestible elements. We seek to interfere with this violent process by using less, but also by re-using more.

We therefore re-valued the material polluting our river - first for its musical qualities, then for its sartorial qualities.

According to the EPA, our compatriots throw away 68 pounds of textiles per person every year. That's like buying an entire wardrobe for New Years and throwing it all away at Christmas. This is not a sustainable way of life.

Our fashion / designer seeks to change the way that people approach fashion because being stylish and standing out in a crowd should not cost us our planet. While organic fabrics are a step in the right direction, using materials that already exist is the most eco-friendly way to produce clothing. It cuts down on pesticides for crop growth, oil use for manufacturing and transport and keeps items, destined for landfills, in use. Every item found in that river has a history. Someone in some factory in China sewed that soccer ball; someone curled his or her hair with that curling iron before it ended up in a riverbed. Trash does not disappear once you toss it into the trash bin - it has to go somewhere. Wearing trash on your sleeve, literally, is a daily reminder that we must be smarter about our trash. We must use our ingenuity to use the resources that we have at our fingertips.

A vintage German weather suit from an army surplus store and a long-closeted polyester jacket is worn by our musician / model as he makes instruments out of trash from the L.A. River: plastic bottles, bottle caps, milk cartons, a curling iron, hubcaps, compact disks, a plastic can top, a skillet, a soccer ball, a shopping cart, a spray can, glass bottle shards, a plumbing pipe, a hubcap, a motor oil bottle, and lots of plastic bags.

This material is then removed from the riverbank and elements of it are incorporated into the suit. The soccer ball becomes a cap and the bottle caps become buttons. The compact disks and their cases, the milk containers and the cord of the curling iron are used to embellish the suit. A functional bag is fashioned with one of the hubcaps, suit remnants and fused plastic bags.

Performances are elicited from dogs, primates, mallards, a goose, a heron and a ladybug.


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