A project for Interpreting the History of PollutionArt Prospect / TRASH 5, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a public art festival, curated by CEC ArtsLink, Tazar Kyrgyzstan & The Bishkek School of Contemporary Art.


Both art and trash are products of humanity that can be said to be defined by their lack of usefulness. However, while art is loved and revered, trash is reviled. Proximity to the former conveys status while proximity to the latter generally indicates the opposite. Trash Teleportation, a new project consisting of signs and videos that symbolically “teleport” trash into the sculpture park in Bishkek’s beautiful downtown Oak Park and “teleport” the sculptures and surrounding greenery into Altynk Kazyk, an informal settlement near Bishkek’s municipal landfill.  Harvey painted a selection of Oak Park statues and their carefully cultivated botanical surroundings from images sourced on the internet. These paintings were then made into colorful oval signs installed in Altyn-Kazyk, providing the settlement with the artistic and natural resources of the city center. For Oak Park, Harvey painted grisaille images of the same statues surrounded by trash from Bishkek and her hometown of New York, reminding visitors of the ecological consequences of our current lifestyles.


The project also consisted of a series of short videos for social media that toggle between the two sites. The music for the videos is excerpted from Playing Together, a live performance by a group of musicians from the U.S., Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, at the Ilkhom Theater in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on October 11, 2016, the culmination of 2 years of exchange supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and organized by C.E.C. Artslink and Uzbekistan’s Omnibus Ensemble.

Trash Teleportation Signs (installed in Altyn Kazyk and Oak Park, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan), Ellen Harvey, 2023. 18” x 24” (46 x 61 cm) aluminum signs. Photo: Ellen Harvey.

Trash Teleportation (video stills), Ellen Harvey, 2023.