Beautiful Garbage

"I've just come back from Cambodia with a bunch of dried toads," declares artist Jerry Swaffield, pretty much by way of introduction. Thirty minutes later, he's prowling a patch of Bangkok wasteland, cars howling past on the expressway above, a stylishly ruffled figure picking through rubbish, whichin the opinion of gawking slum dwellers nearbyhas already been stripped clean of anything valuable. "Very rich pickings," muses Swaffield, before plunking himself down in a discarded armchair that is hemorrhaging orange and yellow foam. "Awesome," he pronounces.

To understand this passion for garbageand dried toadsone must visit an eighth-floor apartment in...

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