Spiral Economy

2019

Intermediate Bulk Containers, sourced through a used goods service, industrially sanitized

Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) were first developed in the early 1990s by Dow Corning, corporate offshoot of Dow Chemical and Corning Glass, and largest silicon manufacturer in the world. These modular, reinforced, standardized shipping containers were designed as improvements on the 55-gallon drum; one IBC occupies the same floor space as four drums, with roughly 20-percent more storage. Their size and shape is closely standardized by several ISO decrees, and their built-in pallets betray a predetermination for the pipelines of global trade.

Just like the substances these containers transport - chemicals, primarily extracted from a second generation of petroleum waste - IBCs are also designed to be recirculated repeatedly; transported, emptied, cleaned, and refilled.

This work both indexes and intervenes in this now-quotidian ritual of chemical circulation. Two IBC tanks are purchased from a "used goods service" (for this iteration I used Kijiji in Toronto); they are then taken to an industrial tank-cleaning business - a kind of service available across most of the industrialized world, usually in close proximity to a shipping hub. Ostensibly cleansed of any contaminants from their past contents, these sanitized tanks are then shown in the gallery until the exhibition is through, at which time the tanks are sold once more on a "used goods service" at regular price, reinserted into this circular economy of chemical containment and transportation.