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On passing through the art galleries of Manhattan, some viewers conclude that much of what is displayed as art is actually trash. These comments may be insightful, ignorant or spiteful depending of the circumstance, but the relationship between art and trash may be closer in New York City than most people think.

New York City produces more trash than any town on earth. Each day enough trash is produced to fill a can the size of the Empire State Building. A mountain of this trash has been created on Staten Island, other mountains have laid whole regions of the sea floor to waste. Lower Manhattan itself is made of trash, people walk on dumps where water used to be. Recently, ocean dumping was banned and the Staten Island dump closed, so daily convoys of trucks are moving trash elsewhere. Now, colossal mountains of garbage are being created in other states.

All this garbage generates a trash pop-psychology. In Manhattan people treat each other like trash. Men shout vulgarities at women and hoot at them out of car windows. Many women in turn treat men like disposable diapers. The media plasters the city with trashy images, advertising posters present women as sex-slut fashion whores. Art too is treated like trash. Artists and galleries set up in decrepit, garbage-strewn neighborhoods, improving the conditions for real estate developers who build co-ops and condos. As soon as the rental value of property is inflated enough, the art galleries are forced out, discarded like trash. Gallery owners then scramble to create a new art scene in another decrepit locality and the art gallery, garbage disposal cycle begins again.

This garbage disposal mentality has infected all levels of the culture. In a civilized society, the city government would step in and establish a permanent site for the art related business and venues. A cultural center that would not be threatened by real estate development, rent escalation and evictions. One suitable location for such a cultural center would be on top of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. Using building techniques developed by Home Depot, the city could erect a whole arts community with hundreds of galleries and studio spaces in a matter of months. There would be plenty of sunlight, parking and easy access by drivers who would not have to struggle with Manhattan traffic. It could be self sufficient, with heat and electric generated with methane gas piped up from the subterranean caverns of decaying debris. It would be a final solution to New York City’s cultural dilemma.