While shock artist Andres Serrano may be trying to pass shit off as art, “Garbage Picker! The Contemporary Artist as Chiffonnier(e)” (opening tonight at New York’s Affirmation Arts) explores the role of the chiffonniere, or ragpicker. “Ragpicker” might be what thrifty fashionistas call themselves when fishing through their neighbor’s trash for “vintage” finds. But instead of trying to recontextualize trash as garments, this Chelsea show utilizes trash as a means of exploring capitalism — both in its 19th-century incarnation, when the American economy was starting to pick up a little steam, and in its current incarnation, when it resembles a possible outtake of Serrano’s latest work.
The chiffonnieres in this show include photographer Christopher Jordan, mixed-media architect Portia Munson, and four others. Collectively, they make a political statement that’s less a polemic on the Western world’s unsavory extravagance and consumption, and more a wake-up call from a group of expert flaneurs.