Scrap

Scrap Lisa Sudhibhasilp, 2017

I have never been to such a place. I like hardware stores, thrift stores, and simply any store that proposes things which have little chance for a second life. A good example is Mevius (1), a large warehouse that sells all sorts of items. If a school canteen is getting new trays, Mevius has five hundreds trays to sell for 50 cents each. Last time I was there, it was possible to purchase empty jewellery boxes from luxury brands. Their goods come from bankrupt companies or deceased people. This place is quite different. A scrap metal place, it’s called (2). Mentioning metal junk automatically brings this image of a pile of rusty and pointy metal. This place epitomizes this rustiness and pointiness. Plus the smell. A smell of metal. Fresh blood. Plus the noise. An unbearable noise, coming from the carts carrying, lifting, and dumping the big pieces that cannot be carried by brute force. Speaking about force, only men work there.

The warehouse is fully open to people for people to walk in, although it doesn’t feel welcoming. On the way there, the only passer-byes are coming from or going to this place. They drive carts mounted on their bikes either empty or full of metal. They sell the scrap and get a price per kilo depending on the kind of metal. The workers then collect and sort by material and size. The colossal pieces are stored outside manoeuvred by a crane. Inside the warehouse, the different metals are placed in strong metal boxes. They have jagged edges and remind me of a Brancusi sculpture.

Everything can be bought here. We (3) walked around and I was amazed. Most of the scrap was unrecognisable, parts of something bigger. Still, there were some familiar commodities, Ikea structures from lamps, pepper dispensers, offset plates. I am a collector myself, although it is difficult to define my collection. For me, collecting is gathering things which don’t yet have value.

The value comes when it can be called a collection.

I like objects that have an aesthetic quality which is principle to their function. Mostly the functions are not clear and this makes the objects odd. I like to encounter these objects, they usually come to me. Same as the scrap being brought to this place. The workers then decide about its value. Or the constitution of the scrap itself is by nature defining its value. When selling a family ring, full of a life, to a “buy gold” store it is only possible to get the amount of money according to its weight. History has suddenly no value, only the pure material. It will be melted down, and remade, with a new value attached. Scrap is the same. Even from the most iconic designer, a pepper dispenser is a matter of 500 grammes. And it is discarded in a specific Brancusi-like box. Until someone picks it up and restores its commodity value. After use, only pure material remains. I discovered a place where value is only ruled by materiality. Is it then the top or the bottom of the economic chain? Is it a place of pure modesty or is it the most trivial and senseless?

I am the artist giving value to matter. A very authoritative decision. The finger pointed, yes this is it. It belongs to my collection.

  1. Mevius, Loods 1, Havenstraat 3, 1075 PR Amsterdam
  2. Kapteijn Metaal Recycling, Zeeburgerpad 114, 1019 AE Amsterdam
  3. Thanks to Martijn Hendriks for showing me the place