So what happens to furniture (specifically couches) in a city that isn't New York (specifically Detroit) that’s dumped outside to be (or this instance, mostly not to be) collected by the sanitation department? Usually the couch sits. And sits. And sits. And then, if it’s lucky, the couch will be photographed and crowned as "Miss May" as part of a 2012 wall calendar titled Couches of Detroit.
For her Couches of Detroit calendar project, photographer and writer Sarah Sharp (a former New York resident who now calls Detroit home) snapped these unlikely pin-up objects in all of their discarded, decomposing glory. And to help make the calendar a reality, Sharp has just launched a Kickstarter campaign. Sharps’ goal of raising $7,500 by July 1 will allow her to order a minimum of 500 full-color, high-quality 11x17 wall calendars and release them by September 2011.
What leads people to throw things away?Living in Detroit, I often wonder at the rationale we use to assign value to objects and places. Things we want so much when we first see them, save and spend to possess, and eventually come to disregard and abandon. Things like couches. Things like Detroit.I am in the process of creating a calendar of 12 Detroit landscapes, each featuring a discarded or abandoned couch. To you, it may signify the apocalyptic tidings of an empty city, but for some people, Detroit allows a great deal of freedom for reinvention. Municipal services are limited to the point where an abandoned couch might sit on the street for a month or more, maybe even long enough for someone to see it not as trash, but art.
Street couches in New York City and other places have been literally vilified — considered eyesores or thought responsible for spreading bedbugs — and you will rarely see such a dangerous offender left alone on the street for long. Here in Detroit, I like to see that these abandoned couches have a life beyond being discarded. During warm weather, people congregate on and around them in empty lots full of wildflowers and leftover domestic ruins, using them at their most fundamental — as a place to sit.The value judgment passed by those who leave these couches — on both the object and on Detroit itself — is clear: here is something worthless. But to those who remain loyal and engaged with this city, there is a different perspective. Having shrunk so dramatically with the flight of those chasing the false prosperity of the auto industry, this remaining Detroit population is not as quick as some others to discard and demolish. After all, the less you need, the more time you can spend relaxing on the couch.