Garbage Beauty


Just like any city, Montreal’s streets are home to refuse and unwanted appliances waiting to be removed by public works. There are couches, televisions, and microwaves all left to the public domain. They are such a constant part of the quotidian reality of city life that they are rendered invisible. Or that was the case before a group of four artists noticed this and took advantage of the piles of free public canvas.

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These four began writing poetic messages in traditional calligraphic styles on the trash and formed a collective around their work. They go by the name of Garbage Beauty. Around Montreal and while they travel the world, they paint poetic script, conceived on the spot, on pieces of waste on city streets. The works they make stay on the street where they found them, their fate uncertain. All that remains of the ephemeral work are photographs the collective takes of the pieces for self-promotion. 

In the class, GDD-325-101: Duality, Design & Dissent, we received an awesome opportunity. Garbage Beauty, through a connection with our design teacher, Noe Sardet, spoke to our class. Their story began with their practice of calligraphy.


Creating traditional calligraphy is no easy task. The members of Garbage Beauty had to spend many hours studying and practicing calligraphy. They even enrolled in classes with a master of calligraphy to refine their practice. The members of the collective explained that calligraphy is part meditation and part writing. To do it properly the practitioner must maintain an upright posture, breathing in and out on the strokes. All of the requirements of strict corporeal regulation and deep breathing turn calligraphy from a mechanical act of mimesis into a spirituality act of self-actualization. Now the thought of monks in the Middle Ages practicing calligraphy seems more appropriate.

– Jack Betelak, Graphic Design Major, Spring 2015

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