Gregg Segal
7 Days of Garbage
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wondered about garbage - where does it go and what happens when we run out of places to put it? With 7 Days of Garbage, I call attention to the crisis of waste and consumption by personalizing it. I asked family, friends, neighbors and other acquaintances to save their trash and recyclables for a week and then lie down and be photographed in it. I included my family because I want my 8-year-old son to understand that we’re contributing to the problem, too. I asked people to include their recyclables for several reasons: 1) packaging is excessive; 2) recycling plastic has steep environmental costs; 3) much of what is designated recyclable does not make it to the recycling plant (a great deal winds up in our oceans, for instance).
I created the settings for the pictures, in my own yard in Altadena, California: water, forest, beach and snow. My aim is to illustrate how pervasive garbage is; no natural environment is untouched. By personalizing the problem of waste – by starting with myself and working outwards from there, I’ve found that some are considering the issue more deeply. Many have said the process of saving their garbage and then laying in it reconciled them to a need for change. Some are taking small steps to mitigate the crisis. Reflecting on the pictures I’ve made so far, I see 7 Days of Garbage as instant archeology, a record not only of our waste but of our values – values that may be evolving a little.
My mother knew I’d become a photographer when, after she got me a camera for my eleventh birthday, I photographed our neighbor’s garbage. I’m lucky I had the sort of mother who saw photographs of garbage as art – or at least as material worthy of documentation. I couldn’t help take notice of and record what I saw. Even mundane moments seemed significant once they’d been composed and framed: stepfather taking apart motorcycle, brother practicing his bowling stride, birds taking flight.
At 16, I was majoring in photography at Interlochen Arts Academy. I went on to do a BFA at California Institute of the Arts. After detouring through film and a master from New York University in dramatic writing, I returned to photography with a story teller’s penchant for drama – seeking that key moment that is about to - or has just - occurred. When the moment works, the resulting photo is like a single frame movie that triggers reflection.
In the nearly four decades I’ve been shooting, I’ve used the medium to explore culture: our beliefs, our values, and our histories. I examine identity and the roles we play: super heroes, CEO’s, and senior Olympians. Senators, psychiatrists, and sex addicts; inventors, gamblers, factory workers, and those just making up their identity as they go.
I avoid categorization, carving out my own niche, a blend of editorial, fine art and documentary photography. My work has been recognized by American Photography, Communication Arts, PDN, Investigative Reporters and Editors, The New York Press Club, and the Society of Publication Designers. My portraiture and photo essays have been featured in Time, Newsweek, The Independent, Le Monde, Stern, Esquire, Fortune, Wired and National Geographic Adventure among others.
MA, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
MFA, New York University, New York, NY.
BFA, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA.
2015Night Falls, Spot Photo Works, Hollywood, CA.
7 Days of Garbage, Union Station, Toronto.
20147 Days of Garbage, Kuminda, Parma, Italy.
2013None of the Above, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland OR.
State of the Union, O. Winston Link Museum, Roanoke, VA.
State of the Union, Warehouse Row, Chattanooga, TN.
2012State of the Union, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.
Enactments, Chelsea Market, New York, NY.
2011Remembered; The Alzheimer's Project, Spruill Gallery, Atlanta, GA.
2006Super Heroes at Home, Arc Light Cinema, Hollywood, CA.
2004Lost Vegas, Contemporary Arts Collective, Las Vegas, NV.
2002Endangered Places, Nicholas Gallery at Pitzer College, Claremont, CA.
1997Ordinary Souls: The Life of Los Angeles, Brand Library and Art Gallery, Glendale, CA.
2015American Photography 31: 7 Days of Garbage
PDN Photo Annual: 7 Days of Garbage.
American Society of Publication Designers Award: Saturday Night in LA.
2014Annenberg Space for Photography, Iris Nights Lecture Series: Enactments
American Photography 30: Ext. Night
2013American Photography 29: Christmas Tree Harvest.
Communication Arts 54: Senior Moments; Christmas Tree Harvest.
2012American Photography 28: State of the Union.
2011American Photography 27: The Disney Fire Department.
Communication Arts 52: State of the Union.
NY Press Club Journalism Award: The Directors.
2010American Photography 26: Remembered; Gang Green.
Communication Arts 51: Gang Green.
American Society of Publication Designers Award: The Me I Used to Be.
2009American Photography 25: iT House: Joshua Tree.
American Society of Publication Designers Award: iT House: Joshua Tree; Bag Revolution.
Communication Arts 50: Bag Revolution.
2007American Photography 23: Forest Whitacre.
PDN Photo Annual: Super Heroes at Home.
Kelly Awards: Finalist, Rozerem Ad Campaign.
2006American Photography 22: Transforming Tijuana.
PDN Photo Annual: When War Hits Home.
2005American Photography 21: Nightshade.
2004American Photography 20: Freeway Close.
2001Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards: Debt to Society.
1999American Society of Publication Designers Award: Still Lives.
1998Ruttenberg Foundation Award: Finalist, Still Lives.