For three months in the spring of 2012, from March 7 to June 6, Peter Gwillim Kreitler collected trash from 1,250 linear feet of Santa Monica Beach, California. This trash collection turned into a photography collection called No Es Basura, This is not Trash, now on display at the Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica.
In the introduction to the collection, Kreitler explains: “Sixteen months later, John Reiff Williams, the gentleman who photographed our wedding in 1985, embraced the challenge and brought what was discarded, forgotten, or simply mundane into an object of art. The transformation is evident. And now our venture is intended to delight, inspire and motivate all of us to embrace our commitment to cleaner oceans and beaches.”
Williams was an excellent choice, as his photography often blurs the lines, literally and figuratively, between the abstract and reality, perhaps best illustrated by his three signature photographic series – the La Jolla Beach Project, The Edge of Collapse Series from Mexico City and the Hollywood Boulevard Series – covered here at the LexJet Blog.
“Peter was going to do the project himself, and kept calling more for advice because he couldn’t get the results he wanted. He asked me to photograph the Arrowhead plastic water bottle, which was the first one in the series, and after that he said, ‘You have to photograph this whole show.’ He’s an old friend, so I couldn’t say no,” recalls Williams. “He had boxes and boxes of stuff, and finally brought the boxes over. After three or four boxes of that you scratch your head to remember what was in the first box, so I put the items in clear plastic. Even if I knew it was going to be a show I wasn’t thinking about continuity, but just the integrity of each object. These objects sat out for two or three days sometimes as I thought about them.”
As an example, the photo shown here of Kreitler standing next to the print of tangled fishing lures, hooks and bobbers at the exhibition was a matter of perspective. Williams imagined he was underwater, he was a fish, and this was his next meal.
“I tried to be honest with the photography, and asked myself: ‘Have I seen anything like this before,’ and, ‘Can I take this image any further?’ If you can’t amaze yourself, then you can’t amaze anyone else,” says Williams.
Williams estimates he took 5,000 photos of the debris and detritus that Kreitler collected at Santa Monica Beach and printed about 125 for the exhibition. Williams printed all the test prints, but was limited in scale by the size of his Epson 3880 inkjet printer. So, he called on master printer Roger Wong to print the gallery pieces, ranging from 16″ x 20″ to 40″ x 60″, on Hahnemuhle FineArt Baryta 325 g.
“Our profiles, printers, monitors and color-management systems were all matched, so Roger was basically able to print blind with just a few adjustments,” explains Williams. “Up until this point I had been printing on Hahnemuhle photo rag, so this was a big switch for me to go to a gloss paper, and the prints look great.”
To see the photographic collection, click here.