nce upon a time, in the Before world, we didn't have cardboard recycling in the ways we do now. And one day during that time, I took the last trash bag out of the trash bag box, and stood, frozen, with the trash bag in one hand and the empty box (now trash) in the other. I laughed. A kind of delight overtook me as I put the trash bag box in the trash bag. There was something about it, the trash bag being used to contain the trash of the box it had come in. I was captivated by multiple aspects of it at once, without really knowing what all they might be.
There was something self-referential and loopy about it. Like consciousness. And something oddly pointless in that self-referentiality. At the time, in that moment, the trash bag was doing its job by containing trash that wouldn't have existed if it weren't for the trash bag. Taken to the extreme---blowing it up, if you will---there would be no need for the trash bag to do that job if the trash bag didn't exist, and thus the trash bag box didn't either.
I started collecting my empty trash bag boxes. Not going through trash bags very quickly, it took quite a while to amass a fair number of them. I got a large transparent trash bag, of a sort used in some places (in that part of the Before time) when "throwing out" recyclable plastic or glass, in order to distinguish it from regular trash. To prove it, maybe, that you weren't faking the recyclability. (The Before time was a suspicious time.) As I collected more trash bag boxes, one every few months, I put them in my big transparent trash bag. It wasn't perfectly loopy, cuz I wasn't collecting only boxes in which that sort of transparent bag came, but it did the trick. After merely a few years, I had a very large transparent trash bag full of trash bag boxes.
What venue (besides my apartment) might host this work of art? I liked the idea of it hanging from the ceiling dead center in a large room that was otherwise empty, but I thought it might be more practical to take my art to an audience, rather than trying to figure out how an audience might come to it. I formulated a plan to tie my bag of trash bag boxes onto the end of a stick, like kids or hobos on TV used to have belongings tied up in a cloth, and carry it over my shoulder around some Earth Day gathering, some year on Earth Day.
I wasn't real good at keeping track of when Earth Day was coming, however, and kept missing it. And then there came a time when moving the collection to my next residence felt, if not impractical, let's say ill-advised. It wasn't when the move was to be halfway across the country, but it also wasn't the first residential move for the collection. I began to doubt my dedication to the follow-through portion of my imagined sculptural statement, performance, kick. I decided it was time to give up my Vision.
At this point in the Before time, we didn't yet have "curbside" cardboard recycling in Charm City. I could have dismantled the piece, and made the effort to recycle the boxes otherwise, which would have been in keeping with the ecological part of the spirit of the project, but I couldn't bring myself to let go that fully. I had what was now (again) trash as much as art, all wrapped up already and ready to go, in its trash bag, which now would be utilitarian as much as aesthetic. It needed to go out in a fashion befitting all that went into it, at least in a small way.
I carried the bundle around back to the alley and placed it ostentatiously atop the garbage cans. It would have some audience after all: anyone who happened down the alley before the trash pick-up, should there be any such someone, and maybe an amused sanitation worker, should she or he happen to notice what was comprising that curiously lightweight bag of trash. Imagining that, while walking back around to the stoop, that's-that washing my hands of it, I laughed again. A kind of delight overtook me.