Times of Waste – The Leftover

As guest in the exhibition StrawGold – Cultural Transformations Rendered Visible
April 23 to September 24 2017
Museum der Kulturen, Münsterplatz 20, Basel

Sunday, April 23 2017,  2-4 pm
With thematic catering by the Internationale Gastronautische Gesellschaft / Bäckerei Kult Basel

Where there is life, there is waste. What goes in, comes out – an eternal transformation. Waste is material that is perceived differently depending on the context. Whether it is a promising resource or the unavoidable leftover: what becomes waste cannot be disposed of without trace. Here, the life of a smartphone is focused on as a typical product of our times. Smooth, beautiful and high-tech, it leaves many kinds of waste: slag, altered landscapes and people who work under deplorable conditions.

The exhibition gives an insight into the transdisciplinary research project Times of Waste. It examines the transformation processes of the smartphone and its components from an aesthetic-theoretical perspective: an object biography maps various transport routes and recycling movements. It tells of economic transformations and novel relationships. Their research led the team to landfills, shredders, repair shops, testing facilities, research laboratories and to various waste materials and people who were willing to share their knowledge.

The exhibition is an assemblage of different fragments playing together associatively: a video projection with atmospheric landscapes and perspectives close to the material; shady maps giving an overview; a sound essay of a smartphone’s object biography, and a metal relict. Its inner life archives the geological and material afterlife, which is produced during a smartphone’s disposal processes: different granulates, slags or metals. They bear witness to the fact that while people are looking for raw materials they eradicate not only the earth’s crust, but also fill it with new waste materials. Different texts are grouped around the exhibited waste, maps, pictures, graphics and sounds raising the question: Where is the leftover going to? And what can be done?

Guided Tours (in German)
Sunday, July 2 2017, 11-12 am with Marion Mertens
Sunday, August 13 2017, 11-12 am with Yvonne Volkart
Sunday, September 17 2017, 3-4 pm with Flavia Caviezel

Finissage: Sunday, September 24 2017, 3-5 pm

The audio walk wastescapes has also emerged in the context of the research project. It pursues various movements of people, animals, plants, materials and goods in Basel’s border area. On May 5/6/12/13 and June 10 2017 the walk will be conducted as a supplement to the exhibition. Information and registration until April 27 2017 on


Conception & Realisation: Research team Times of Waste,  in collaboration with the Museum der Kulturen Basel/ Stephanie Lovász
Graphic Design: Sonia Malpeso
Animation: Andrea Zaccuri
Translation/Proofreading: Peter Burleigh
Metal Construction: Froelich & Corbella GmbH

Thanks to our project partners Museum der Kulturen Basel, Amt für Umwelt und Energie Basel-Stadt, Empa St. Gallen as well as the staff of the incineration plant Basel, the repositories Elbisgraben and DHZ AG Lufingen, the Immark AG, Geomicrobiology University Tübingen, Helvetrade, the Institutes Hyperwerk & Fashion Design HGK FHNW, Heinz Leuenberger (Chief Technical Advisor, UNIDO), RS Switzerland, Schweizerischen Metallhandels AG, Umicore, verkaufen.ch, Waser AG for their support and the loans.