press release

SculptureCenter is pleased to present The University of Trash by Michael Cataldi and Nils Norman. The University of Trash will be on view May 10-August 3, 2009 with an opening reception on Sunday, May 10, 2009 5-7pm.

The University of Trash is an experiment in alternative architecture, urbanism, and pedagogy taking place in SculptureCenter's main space. Drawing from utopian ideals and radical urban projects undertaken since the 1960s, the artists will create an installation that functions as a temporary, makeshift University - hosting courses, lectures, presentations, and workshops. A Free Skool program will operate within the University, offering the public the opportunity to propose their own courses - open and free for all who sign up and attend throughout the duration of the exhibition. To see all events or to make a proposal for an event, please visit

Working collaboratively with students, local organizations, activists, and academics, the artists have been gathering and researching material related to activities of the 1960s countercultural Appropriate Technology movement, experimental pedagogy, adventure playgrounds, Non-plan, emergency and low-impact design, the vernacular of informal housing, and historical sites of activism.

The University of Trash partly stems from Norman's research of Adventure Playgrounds. A popular movement that began in the late 1930s, Adventure Playgrounds reclaimed bombed out or otherwise derelict urban spaces as spaces for play as open ended ground for experimentation. Building on Cataldi's research on New York's Lower East Side, the artists will construct a functional model of the Tompkins Square Park Bandshell in collaboration with Just Seeds/Visual Resistance Artists' Cooperative.

High School students from City-As-School have been working with the artists to create The Skool of Refuse and Appropriation, a vernacular living/working node as part of the installation. Research, discussion, drawing, and model making determine the form and function of the structures. The University of Trash is also hosting the House Magic Bureau of Foreign Correspondence, a working research office dedicated to squatted social center movements throughout Europe, containing images, documents, and videos collected by Alan Moore and members of ABC No Rio visual arts collective in New York.

Throughout the exhibition there will be a mix of workshops, screenings, and presentations focusing on grass roots, self-organized urbanism, DIY architecture and the evolving aesthetics and politics of public space. Scheduled programs include a low-power radio transmitter building workshop, and presentations and film programs by collaborators including Free 103.9 & Prometheus Radio, Neurotransmitter, CUP (Center for Urban Pedagogy), Build it Green, NYC, and Alastair Gordon. Max Goldfarb's M49 mobile radio truck will broadcast Summer Sessions, a series of outdoor concerts on weekend evenings in June and July. A schedule of events will be released in a separate press release and updated regularly on SculptureCenter's website.

The University of Trash is presented in dialogue with Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center, an exhibition by Damon Rich at the Queens Museum of Art. These two exhibitions are collaborating to co-host public programs, in addition, each exhibition will include one element from the other.

Michael Cataldi (born 1982, Philadelphia) is an artist whose work intervenes in the public sphere. Cataldi's site generated projects, ranging from ad hoc architectures to improvised play structures, propose the re-imagination and re-use of space and place.

Nils Norman (born 1966, UK) is known worldwide as an artist and activist in the fields of art and urbanism. Specializing in political and economical theories of utopia and distopia, Norman uses his knowledge to examine and critique existing structures and social situations, particularly within urban landscapes.

Michael Cataldi & Nils Norman
The University of Trash