Critic’s Pic

Critic's Pick
Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow
April 15, 2015

50 Greenspace Dumpsites
Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow

We began our search by walking down an alley in the South Side of Pittsburgh on a winter day. We were looking for an illegal dumpsite that we knew existed; we had used the GPS coordinates provided, but weren’t seeing it. We have learned to follow clues since that day. We explore the city, the landscape; taking paths along train tracks and rivers, into the woods and over the sides of hills. Tires, treated wood, railroad ties, household garbage and
construction refuse all lead the way to dumpsites.

Illegal dumping in Pittsburgh is widespread; however, it is a problem that many locals don’t even know about. We quickly learned that the culture of dumping is boundless, affecting almost every neighborhood and socio-economic area in the city. We were immediately motivated to begin recording sites. We contacted Allegheny CleanWays, a local non-profit that organizes neighborhood clean-ups and fights illegal dumping, they granted us access to their statistical and GPS data, which was integral to developing this project.

We delved into the mass of data, mapping the known coordinates. Not only are there more than 300 documented dumpsites, many exist on the sides of steep hills and in woodsy perimeters of residential neighborhoods. More disturbing, there are sites in extremely close proximity to green spaces often used for outdoor recreation. These include public parks, little league fields, cemeteries and playgrounds. Evidence of people dumping different types of materials and waste varies from site to site; old shingles, construction waste, carpeting and tons of tires litter the scenes.

The photographs appear to be landscapes of public spaces, but when coupled with data about the space as a dumpsite, the multiple layers of information present viewers with a new perception of these places. By creating a bridge between the unsuspecting landscape image and the truth about what happens there, we are attempting to bring a new level of significance to these sites. Images are paired with relevant data and a Quick Response code. The QR code links users to a website where additional images of the dumpsite are included. Here viewers will see documentation of the dumping itself. There will be play between the beautiful and the ugly, the sublime and the underbelly.

Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow have been photographing together since 2001, when they met on a photography workshop in the desert southwest.

Christine Holtz has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently a Professor of Media Arts at Robert Morris University

Lauren S. Zadikow has a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is currently a PhD Candidate in Media and Communication at European Graduate School