Project Shop | 2010
Project Shop was a response to emptying high streets across the UK. Post 2008 more and more store fronts in town centres were emptying as small businesses went out of business. It felt as though the high street was being decimated by the dual pressures of financial crisis and the rise of internet shopping.
There were ever increasing examples of artists utilising these empty shops as pop up galleries, which felt like an inappropriate response to a situation of economic downturn; to attempt to place some of the highest end consumer goods (Art) in place of a failed local business. so as a reaction to both the dying high street and inspired by the seemingly inappropriate responses of other artists, when we asked ourselves what we should put in place of an empty shop, the answer was a ‘shop’.
We constructed the shop décor and our products from the waste packaging (mostly cardboard), thrown out buy the surrounding shops and businesses. All the products were empty cardboard boxes parodying food packaging, technology products, cosmetics, etc. these were the props for the performance the shoppers entered into. Upon entering the store participants were given currency, manufactured by us, which they could either keep or exchange for a product from the shop.
The shop was staffed by a group of performers adopting what appeared to be hammed up sitcom characters. They answered shopper’s questions, cleaned up spilt products and restocked shelves. The performance lasted 4 days, with a closing event of a discussion between business owners, community leaders and artists about the future of the high street. Before the shop closed for business and all the cardboard from which it was made was put back in the recycling.