Adriane Herman—Implications of Disposability

Adriane Herman, Out of Sorts (Aluminum Bale), 2017, digital photograph, variable dimensions.

I explore cycles of accumulation and release in our physical and emotional landscapes. My recent exhibition at SPEEDWELL projects, entitled Out of Sorts, invited viewers to consider individual and collective consumption as manifest in six bales of recyclable materials that non-profit solid waste manager, ecomaine compacted smaller than usual to fit through the gallery door.

Out of Sorts (Ball), 2017, digital photograph, variable dimensions.

Aided by myriad individuals whose gestures of release collectively created the readymade objects appropriated for this occasion, I pressed pause on the recycling process to allow visitors to contemplate their patterns of consumption and the personal, cultural and global implications of disposability.

Out of Sorts (Baby Powder), 2017, digital photograph, variable dimensions.

To facilitate such reflections, I commissioned benches fabricated by Benjamin Spalding out of wood we salvaged from woodpiles in Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth, and upholstered by Amy Emmons with fabric printed with photos of bales of recycling.

Out of Sorts, 2017, installation view. Photo Justin Lumiere

Visitors fulfilled my hope that they would sit on these plushly cushioned benches and register the visual, visceral, and psychological impact of simultaneously minimalist and maximalist monuments to communal efforts to keep things out of the landfill.


Printed on fabric and hung on pegs designed to force viewers to implicate themselves through handling and potentially draping around themselves, were photographs of trash being incinerated and recycling being sorted both mechanically and by hand.

Model with Complicity (Aluminum Bale), 2017, digital photograph printed on satin, 36 x 54

I designed this series of “wearable or wall-able” prints entitled “Complicity” to humanize the process and highlight the fact that when we place something in a recycling bin we are in direct physical dialogue with workers who sort, remove contaminants from, and bale recyclable materials.


Complicity (Claw), 2017, digital photograph printed on chiffon fabric, 36 x 54 inches, hung on a wooden peg that is ringed by a post-consumer lobster claw rubber band to keep the print from slipping off the peg onto the floor. Image is of the giant metal claw that shovels trash into the incinerator at solid waste management facility, ecomaine.

Materially manifest in the strata of these intimate yet anonymous commodities is evidence of how we eat, drink, work, play, and clean, and how much (or how little) attention we pay to discarding things responsibly.





Since the exhibition ended, the U.S. recycling industry has been drastically impacted by China halting imports of much of our castoff material due to a crackdown on pollution. While Trump dismantles environmental protections, China is imposing fines and shutting down factories violating previously unenforced environmental regulations.

Out of Sorts, 2017, exhibition installation, viewer interactions.



A crisis point is upon us commanding that we minimize what we are using rather than continue congratulating ourselves on tossing things in blue bins.







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