The Seduction of Trash: Nick Quijano’s “Basura”


In, Diana Soto de Jesús offers a profound and poignant review on the latest exhibition by Nick Quijano—Basura [Trash]—which is on view until February 24, 2013, at the Museo de la Américas in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. She muses, “This is really a love story. And like every love story, it begins with seduction: the shimmer in the eyes, the spark that calls a body to be drawn to another. . . This particular story began one day in 1981 on Cascajo Beach in La Perla. [. . .] Nick Quijano arrived at Cascajo and found objects that had been brought in by the sea. Objects that today appear as unexpected creatures on display in the Basura exhibition.”

The Romance of Trash

There is something romantic about the works in “Basura.” Something romantic à la Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, bringing to life creatures made with obsolete parts in a mixture of obsession, creative passion, and unexpected dreams. Behind these works made ​​from resurrected trash, there is also a darker side, which, if not exposing itself entirely as horror, reveals a warning or an urgent question: What do we do with all this junk?

“Human beings are the only ones that produce garbage; all natural beings produce things that are reused immediately,” said Quijano. For the artist, the answer to this question seems to begin with remembering trash and what it entails. “What I would like is to have people go there [the show] and to take with them that testimonial,” the testimonial of waste, which seems to state that “We have left a terrible and marvelous print” on the planet. But the garbage in “Basura” offers other testimonials beyond its own existence as garbage that exists and is visible. To remember trash is also to remember what it evokes. Garbage—as objects that were previously used, desired, maybe even loved—has its stories; it is loaded with memories.

“A shoe sole, if one scrutinizes it, one realizes that it is a witness, it is a life,” says Quijano, “that sole is the product of engineering, marketing, design … I mean, it implies an entire intelligence prior to its use, which is complex…. it comprises, then, hours that people spent designing the form, the machinery, the product, how to get that product from oil and turn it into a part for a mold, to then turn it into a rubber part, into a heel, which in turn is attached to leather, plastic or vinyl, to be in turn taken to a store, which in turn advertise it so that people will want to buy it, then use it, then wear it out, then give it away, throw it away, and then end up in my hands. So, that’s a novel. A complete testimony. And that’s only half of it, because then we have what that person left [imprinted upon them]: their affections, their emotions, their daily lives. What did he/she step on? On which streets did he/she walk?”

And suddenly trash appears to us with stories—stories to tell and to imagine. Stories of individuals but also of the development of a society. [. . .]

For full review (in Spanish), see

3 thoughts on “The Seduction of Trash: Nick Quijano’s “Basura”

  1. Fantastic, beautiful, there is no stopping Quijano!!!! I need to see this exhibit! By the way, happy birthday to another Caribbean monster: Felicidades/bon anniversaire Alejo Carpentier!!!!! And happy new year to all of us– we will need all the creativity, intelligence, love, and imagination this year and those that follow!!!!!

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