Monash University

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Regimes of value: the collection and utilization of urban detritus as a contemporary visual art strategy

posted on 2017-02-22, 04:13 authored by Gower, Elizabeth Ann
The research focus is the collection, appropriation and re-purpose of ephemera and urban detritus as a contemporary visual art strategy. The technological/industrialized cultures of the 21st century, which are predicated on built-in obsolescence and disposability, have led to a proliferation of urban detritus that has become operative in a range of cultural practices. The study examines why contemporary artists appropriate discarded materials and how the material is utilized in their practice. In particular the research determines the degree to which studio location, chance, and nuances of prevailing material culture influence the content and format of contemporary practice. To this end the study examines and contextualizes the strategies and methodologies inherent in my practice and those of relevant contemporary precedents who re-assign waste materials as a strategy to critique material culture and systems of value. Integral to this research is the exhibition I curated, Regimes of Value that included the works of twenty-eight contemporary Melbourne artists who strategically re-purpose discarded material. I identify the ‘collage’ processes of collection and codification, as methodologies implicit in my practice and that of a significant number of contemporary artists.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Luke Morgan

Additional supervisor 1

Marian Hosking

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture