Dumpster Archeology- introduction

This is the story of a project called Dumpster Archeology and the 6 year journey into the heart of America’s trash. From the beginning moments to the Grand Finale, it is a story told in chapters with rabbit holes into oddness. At the heart is the question of how much value an object holds after it is purged into the Trash Oblivion?

Dumpster Archeology is an exploration in Storytelling, beginning with the discovery of an artifact from a dumpster and ending with a public display of Experiential Art in various mediums and styles. A multi-dimensional rabbit-hole based entirely within non-fictional tunnel realities.

Welcome to Dumpster Archeology !

In the beginning there was … The View from 2323

We begin with a Dumpster Diver, on the hunt for something interesting in a large dumpster outside a giant house in a historic district on the St Louis riverfront. The neighborhood is called Lafayette Square, surrounding a city park that goes back 200 years as a common ground. The French built the first houses, the new American Germans beautified the space, and in 1896 a tornado almost destroyed it. The mansions and Victorian houses that survived the great depression, but slowly declined until the 1980’s when architecture fans, revived the neighborhood to be fit for a new wealthy class.

2323 Lafayette drive

Everyone knows about the haunted mansion, it sat empty for a long time, as the family who still walked the grounds, lived in the carriage houses behind avoiding the water damage and maintenance of the 8000 square feet house. In 2015 it was sold to new owners and a rehab was underway, as the family who had resided there since 1923, took what they could afford to keep in their new smaller accommodations.

The Dumpster Diver doesn’t know any of this, he just sees a big dumpster and lots of items inside. Always a fan of books, he grabs 4 that smell a little of mold but had interesting titles. Lew is a curious sort of man, and dug deeper into the card board boxes. Our first major art-ifact clue of the Project is discovered, an Envelope from within brown folders. A name and address, George Seib of 2323 Lafayette Dr. From this name, the entire project would explode outward.

George and his family would prove to be compelling and their history felt alive for Lew as he walked the same streets as the Project characters and peered deeply into their old garden. The dumpster kept filling up each day, as Contractors emptied the basement, tore up dry wall and purged the remaining items left from the Seib family. Later that week, Lew and a friend returned late at night, with flashlights, gloves, hoodies and a willingness to find anything historic.

Tons of medical mail, drug scripts, magazines, and postcards were saved by the Dumpster diving duo. Underneath a large sheet of drywall, with mold, Lew found something odd with his gloved hands. A small box, that once opened and shone with a headlamp revealed to be a Reel to Reel tape. On the back written in pencil was the words, “Carrie Seib 1949”. The history story unfolding was about to get much stranger.

Here was the mystery unfolding in real time. Recorded on Social media with the liner notes written by Lew himself. Recording the audio from the Tapes unraveled so many more questions. What was a Spiritualist? What did the three volumes of Poems in libraries all over the world contain and what legacy did Carrie Seib offer?

American’s don’t believe in psychics, while the majority of humanity seems to have no problem with the concept, going deep into our collective history for the magical strangeness. Debate it’s truth among yourselves, the question is not of “realness”, but it’s purpose within our cultural zeitgeist. The Project gathered steam and Lew dug deep into the unknown.

When one fills one’s head with a lot of historical information, the only way to purge is, to share. Lew needed an outlet, so he made a website and shared his findings on facebook. After a month, a rare opportunity arrived as the Strange Folk Festival was holding it’s late September event in Lafayette Square, and Lew had a strange story to share. Contact was made, permissions were granted and the first trash pop-up museum was created.

The View from 2323, was the first output of artistic experimentation with Dumpster Archeology The mock living next to the ancient fence was a transportation device into the story of the neighborhood haunted mansion, with full audio clips of the Psychic actually talking to the ghosts. Lew laid out the story in windows, on dumpster dived doors, and he sold nothing. The template for the Project was set.

Dumpster Archeology had an instant impact that is hard to describe. Over the weekend festival: the owners of the house gave Lew a tour, the Psychic’s grand-daughter discovered the project and helped with true direct stories, the neighborhood learned about the history of 2323 Lafayette drive, and a place that was once haunted, now became a living history.

Two talented local writers did digital articles about Project, more events/gallery showings were being planned and a Ted X style talk was promoted. The Public needed to know what had just happened. Yet, what that exactly was, became the focal point of the Project. A new Art Medium unfolding with a natural zest.

Lew did his best to honor the legacy and capture the beautiful weirdness of the house at 2323. Dozens of Articles, Social media efforts and Digital Magazines captured the Story but in the end the Trash only has so much to say. The Art truly was found with the visual objects themselves, the Art-ifacts were the multi-dimensional rabbit holes and the View from 2323 grew into a mythology.

Many Rabbit holes below will take you deeper into their story.

Dumpster Archeology didn’t stop with the View from 2323, as new Art-ifacts lead to new History, New neighborhoods and New Characters. The next chapter takes us deeper into the alleyways of St Louis and some local Artists whose Art would end up saved from Trash Oblivion. ……………. Click on Chapter 2