The Supermarket Museum project has been a many-fold endeavor. Looking only at the artists’ collective path of the project, through numbers, one would notice more than 25 volunteers and artists, 5 months of collaboration, 19 art pieces, 5 organizations, 11 nationalities… On the other hand, taking a look at the stories behind and the topics chosen by the artists, the picture painted would be much more complex.
“Charaf arrives with the trolley, and as planned, we try to attach our newly-bought Go-Pro camera to the bar, but it’s too wide! We try on the side and the front of the trolley, but it doesn’t fit!” – Ruth, the coordinator of artists from La Bolina starts to describe the adventures of recording the “Disconnect” movie which will be one of the artefacts in the “Supermarket Museum” – “our plan isn’t working, we have to think fast without attracting attention. A couple walk past and we pretend to be looking for something in the car boot. And then the guy in a hi-vis jacket pushing a long train of trolley walks right passed the car… my heart racing, he looks, but he says nothing. Finally after a few minutes of surreptitious man-oeuvres we get it to stay using some velcro straps! Our little Go-Pro hidden between jackets on the handle bar of a shopping trolley – ready for it’s first outing”. Ruth hesitates and then continues with excitement -“….and we’re off, up the escalator ramp – three friends from the Gambia, Morocco and the UK – on an undercover supermarket mission in a mega store in the south of Spain!”.
In the meantime, in Czech Republic, Martin was recording the shots for the “Supermarket VR” piece. His impressions from the endaveour were quite different than the ones of the Spanish team: “I discovered that when you walk around supermarket with bicycle helmet and gopro action camera on top you are actually quite inconspicious”. Among the artists and volunteers participating in the museum, the space of supermarkets has been a popular venue of creating their artefacts. Anita, a sound engineer from Poland, recounts her visit in the supermarket, while recording the soundscape for the Museum: “Funny story – the day I was recording, a small incident happened in the supermarket. Someone broke the glass of tomato sauce in the supermarket and I was lucky enough to catch this sound on my recording!”.
When asked about the key topics they intended to address, all participants present a similar narrative, yet with different angles: “Quality of local food self-sufficiency, living with a community” – emphasises Blanka, a Polish artist who has created a series of interviews with seniors who still remember “the taste of the past”. Ernest from the Gambia adds: “open local markets create a healthy and peaceful environment, while industrial agriculture destroys the ecosystems and when it will be completely destroyed, there will be no human on earth”.For Iryna, the coordinator of artists from Ukraine, the main topics of the artefacts fro Ukraine are “deprivation of uniqueness in the supermarket culture and the victory of the short-term economic benefits of the minority over the good of the majority”.
When approached about their motivation to participate in the project, the artists give different answers – “I have intended to encourage awareness, reflection, empathy” – concludes Marina. “I’m criticizing treating consumption and supermarket as a treatment to fill their spiritual and cultural needs” – says Kamila who has created a performance “Sacrifice: the offering” for the Museum – and she adds – “while I was recording my performance during a Sunday morning, next to the trash place in the backyard of the Myymaa gallery in Helsinki, neighbours started to register my performance through the windows. I could see that some of them were still wearing pyjamas)”! – recounts Kamila. How does such an endavour starts? It all has started in December, during the first meeting of the artists’ collective of the Supermarket Museum project. During the series of online meetings, the artists’ collective has been developing the idea of the Supermarket Museum. The work included both collaborative work on the narrative, forms and ideas for the website, as well as individual work on the artefacts and giving each other feedbacks on one’s work.
“How would you describe your artefact, in one word?” – asks Weronika, the curator of the artists’ path of the Supermarket Museum project. The replies given vary: “madness” – answers Martin, “chemical spray” says Ruth, “interconnectedness” adds Marina. Basing on the different topics and values being the fundament of artists’ work, they have created the collective’s Manifesto which emphasises that the supermarket food system and its social, cultural, economical and ecological implications are destructive in many ways. The key words of the manifesto includes “disconnection”, “dignity of workers”, “cultural and biological diversity”, “damaging ecosystems”, “local community”. The premiere of the Supermarket Museum will take place on 22nd of July. Don’t stay tuned. Stay interconnected.