Giant carapace made out of trash cans

carapace.jpg One of the newer works by artist Brian Jungen is this giant tortoise shell made out of garbage bins.

Artist page [via NotCot]


  1. I saw his stuff @ the National Museum of the American Indian. Very clever, very beautiful.

    1. I was just about to say that exact same thing. Beautiful, playful, awesome work with a sense of humor.

  2. Now he just needs some red and blue garbage cans and he can get to work building a giant Mario next to it.

  3. This is cute and all, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was “mosquito breeding ground”.
    I hope there are holes drilled at certain points to allow for drainage if it’s going to be outside.

    1. Why would it go outside? Art that is meant to be outdoors is generally designed with that in mind. Artists don’t usually just plunk their stuff outside. Jungen has a pretty well-established career as a museum-level artist. I don’t recall if he’s ever done outdoor art though.

  4. Ambitious but as of the past year, this seems to be a very convenient trend in the art world.

    This trend consists of making giant “things” out of unlikely materials.

    As an example:
    The artist created a giant (fill in the blank ) using only recycled (fill in the blank).

    Trash bags, old sneakers, coffee cans, bottle caps, Styrofoam cups, bug wings, etc. are all fair game for artistic mediums. But apparently, the importance of the art work now depends entirely on the unlikely material it is composed of.

    I see no value in this contemporary and hackneyed approach. The true and intrinsic value of artwork is the concept and execution. NOT how unusual and clever the materials are.

    It’s fun and interesting but not gallery or museum worthy. IMHO.

    1. Well, Jungen’s work is about the concept and the execution, not just the materials he works with. And as far as making things out of unlikely materials being so last year, well, you’re actually about 94 years off on that:

      As for Jungen, he’s a First Nations artist and he often utilizes manufactured plastic items such as lawn chairs to create larger sculptures evoking Native American imagery, as in the tortoise-shell. If you google him, you’ll see a great deal of this work, although it is true that to see it in person is a very different experience. As for being museum-worthy? That’s a matter of opinion, but in my opinion he’s earned it.

      1. imo, Duchamp (and some of his pals) had the first and last word in conceptual art-as-object, and i’ve never seen any since then that seemed to have anything to say worth saying at all.

  5. Jungen altered this piece, Carapace, quite a bit from the original for the Strange Comfort exhibit. The piece had been dismantled and shipped to the museum, and under the instruction of the artist, collections staff cut many of of the trash bins in half. The reconstructed piece is open at the top, and visitors can walk through the center. NMAI invited visitors to post their own photos of the pieces to a Flickr pool (yes, photos are allowed for this exhibition), see them at: The exhibit closes August 8, so be sure to visit it if you can make it to DC. It’s one of the most joyously inventive art exhibit around.

  6. It reminds me of the band shell at Fort Mason that’s made from recycled computer parts.

  7. Much less interesting than his previous work in my opinion.

    Have you guys seen his whale skeleton made of plastic lawn chairs? Anatomically proportioned beauty. Sneakers made of re-assembled Nikes? Wonderful

    this one is alright, but I like this other work better. Just saying.

  8. I don’t usually – well, never, actually – want to change art I come across, but in this case I would add a tiny tinny-sounding speaker, at or in the bottom of each bin, each wired independently to make odd sounds, at odd intervals.

    I look at this, and I think: “It ought to make strange little noises, coming up from the depths of those bins.”

    I don’t know why.

    But it’s not my art to alter: and it’s pretty cool as it is.

    PS I really do think it’s pretty darned philistine, to mess with an artist’s work!
    Especially after one has purchased it.

  9. The sounds should prompt people to walk up and look into the bins to see what’s making the noise:
    and there ought to be advertising you then see on the bottom of the bin!
    Kinda like a venus-fly trap for eyeballs, but relying on sound.

    Gee, maybe I really ought to get more sleep!

  10. This guy’s stuff is incredible…I was at the NMAI last fall and to see the works is really awesome!

  11. This is what my nightmares look like. I was at loose ends yesterday so I decided to scrub and disinfect all of the waste baskets in our mostly summer-empty building. I should have grabbed the nearest lower ranker and assigned it. There were over 60 of them and it took 5 hours. I don’t want to see trash cans again for a while.

  12. Saw his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery and was blown away by it all. From the patio chair whale skeletons to the Prototype for a new Understanding series to the teepee traditionally constructed from leather couches. Love him.

  13. My brother thinks the turtle shell stinks.I like it!It looks cool!I wish I could do that. But I can’t. I am trying to make a trash recycle bot. I have not started it, but I will. I like it a lot.

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