Trashed

What but a sense of shame about the trash each of us produces could account for the relief of disposing of it and the speed at which its memory evaporates? But our garbage never really goes away, as Jeremy Irons and director Candida Brady expend vigorous energy and much jet fuel to illustrate in the quietly livid Trashed. Irons's high indignation provides a fine, Stradivarian accompaniment to his visits to a seething Lebanon landfill, several Scandinavia incineration plants, a rubbish-choked Indonesia river, and, most grotesquely, a hall of Agent Orange–warped fetuses aligned in giant pickling jars in Vietnam. The form is straightforward, if a little meandering, as is the message: We have to fix this. In that sense, forcing our attention onto the thing most of us love to forget makes its own point. And indeed it is hard to look at the dumps, heaps, toxic seepages, and ocean-polluting plastics shown here to be neither as distant nor as containable as one might hope. The coup de grâce—that we are now literally made of that which we throw away—is softened only by the idea that future generations need not be. Michelle Orange

 
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