View Into Dumpster Tells Story of Artist Mac Premo’s Life

Knickknacks. Junk. Stuff.

When people are faced with mounting piles of things collected over the years, they usually throw them out, or else they become the next subjects of a “Hoarders episode. But Mac Premo did something different: He made a work of art instead.

The Brooklyn artist and self-proclaimed “stuff collector” has created The Dumpster Project, something he came up with when faced with having to downsize to a smaller art studio last year. With the help of others, Premo took close to 500 objects he had collected throughout his life and built a giant collage inside a 30 cubic-yard dumpster.

“Storing it seemed strange because there are some weird [things in the dumpster] that are questionable as to why one would put it in storage, but I knew I couldn’t throw it away as well,” he said.

He’s probably talking about the Craig Morton football card (“Craig Morton looks exactly like Neil Diamond, which is just weird”), the 1920s-era amberol tube record, the toy shark, and various school IDs (“really terrible hair in some of these”).

But amongst the obscure entities are also the sentimental items: the pair of shoes in which his daughter first learned to walk, ticket stubs from a three-day baseball game pilgrimage with his father, and a potato chip bag from the night that he first professed his love to his then-girlfriend, now-wife.

In addition to the walk-in art installation, Premo has built a website where he is currently photographing and posting each of the objects, along with a story of its significance.

It’s those stories collectively that have made the project a learning experience for Premo — who realizes the project is less about the material objects and more about the memories behind them.

“I don’t own a yacht, I don’t even actually own a car, but I’ve got two wonderful daughters, I’ve got the greatest wife on earth, my parents are well and phenomenally supportive, and I have tremendous friends,” he said. “I’ve come away from this feeling like I’ve examined my life and I’m extremely lucky.”