Illegal dumping in Pittsburgh is widespread; however, it is a problem that many locals don’t even know about. We quickly learned that the culture of dumping is boundless, affecting almost every neighborhood and socio-economic area in the city. We were immediately motivated to begin recording sites. We contacted Allegheny CleanWays, a local non-profit that organizes neighborhood clean-ups and fights illegal dumping, they granted us access to their statistical and GPS data, which was integral to developing this project. We delved into the mass of data, mapping known coordinates. Not only are there more than 300 documented dumpsites, many exist on the sides of steep hills and in the woodsy perimeters of residential neighborhoods. More disturbing, many sites are in close proximity to greenspaces often used for outdoor recreation. This aspect of the data stood out so much, that we chose to document 50 of these specific locations. These included public parks, little league fields, cemeteries and playgrounds. Evidence of people dumping different types of materials and waste varies from site to site; old shingles, construction waste, carpeting and tons of tires litter the scenes. The photographs appear to be landscapes of public spaces, but when coupled with data about the space as a dumpsite, the multiple layers of information present viewers with a new perception of these places. By creating a bridge between the unsuspecting landscape image and the truth about what happens there, we are attempting to bring a new level of significance to these sites. Images are paired with relevant data and a Quick Response code. The QR code links users to a website where additional images of the dumpsite are included. Here viewers will see documentation of the dumping itself. There will be play between the beautiful and the ugly, the sublime and the underbelly.
Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow have been photographing together since 2001, when they met on a photography workshop in the desert southwest. Christine Holtz has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently a Professor of Media Arts at Robert Morris University Lauren S. Zadikow has a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a MFA from SouthernIllinois University Carbondale. She is currently a PhD Candidate in Media and Communication at European Graduate School