AKAY & Olabo

What a waste…


What makes something a valuable commodity and when is it garbage? Items on store shelves are precious enough to protect with security guards, surveillance cameras, special mirrors and alarm systems. But when food products pass the sell-by date, they end up in the dumpster. Unsold fast fashion garments are sent to a landfill after the trend ends. All the materials and resources and labor that went into their creation is, with one decisive action, suddenly made worthless. What is that moment? When does a must-have product of a multibillion dollar industry transform into literal trash?


And on the other hand, what is the alchemy that can transform discarded tarps and leftover cargo straps into art? Akay and Olabo have rescued refuse from gutters and construction site dumpsters and created pieces that are not out of place on a gallery wall—beautiful and remarkable and the result of their joyful resourcefulness and trickster ethics. They’ve harvested the city for these pieces. Making sure nothing goes to waste. And, as often in their process of creating, by navigating the gaps between what’s currently socially acceptable and what’s sure to be politically necessary, they’ve widened the path some. Provided a glimpse into something that was hard to notice beyond the aisles of commodified items and mountains of waste. One possible way through this mess, forged by impulsive curiosity and a casual disregard for the economic system that extracts, consumes, discards.


Text: rae.