I want to talk about the bag project now
The work is Directed to essie nail colors but this project has a longer history.
As one shops they are bombarded by different types of advertising and packages that are all sorts of colors and shapes
But one thing is consistent the shelf label that notes the price The Price is important and easy to find highlighted in yellow On a Target shelf label
The product descriptions very coded and read awkardly
For example: Lays Chicken and waffles
, Success White rice
Barbie I can be delux,
trophy wife, bond with whomever.
Next to the product that language may not seem odd. but when separated it can be confusing.
because I replace 100’s of these labels every day at work
I usually come home with a pocket full of them.
This project started out with me screen printing replicas of random labels on shopping totes based on how the meanings changed when removed from the packaging.
I chose a shopping tote instead of making a print on paper because the shopping tote is a way to advertise what you like or bought. it is also something one would place on their body and carry to advertise like a concert t-shirt or a ball cap.
I exhibited them in an art context and the response was “ oh how funny” and “how can I get one”. I gave them out for free that night and It was interesting to see people wearing them the next day. A strange fashion statement, and unexpected.
Looking at more advertising to teens I came across ads for Essie polish in seventeen magazine
The Tag line reads
quote Nothing is too Taboo between us Call Me! end quote
and the nail colors associated with them were Taboo, I’m addicted, topless and barefoot. I went to to work and looked at all the other nail color names essie had Trophy Wife, Damsel in a Dress, China Doll, Honey Buns and more are here.
These aren’t colors they types of women reduced to objects with properties.
The President of Essie nail Polish Essie Weingarten said in a seventeen magazine article: quote I’ve named every polish up until now the names were meant to be happy, positive whimsical empowering and especially unforgettable end quote.
Personally, theres nothing empowering or whimsical about Rockstar skinny or starter wife.
I created new bags with the essie labels.. I went in to local stores that sold the polish rite aid and target as well as places that sold the magazine safeway and powells and shopdropped the bags.
Shopdropping as coined by Ryan watkins hughes in 2004 and I quote To covertly place objects on display in a store. A form of culture jamming reverse shoplifting and droplifting end quote.
Hughes took his photographs to grocery stores and wrapped them around canned foods to create his own art shows in the middle of grocery stores. Packard Jennings another artist created musolini action figures and placed them in the store. I added my bags to these stores where the tote bags hung and in Target they were scannable through the register.
I did these in local stores so I could keep track of how long they were up and if they had been moved around. also so i could drop in the same stores regularly.
Because I see the names objectifying and oppressive to women. I thought having photos of them on bodies would drive my argument forward
I decided to enlist fellow art students to wear them and shop in local stores and i would photograph them
I showed them a stack of bags and let them choose a bag
And where I thought they would be offended and not want to have their face in the photos
They were laughing and owning the terms. They were ready to perform as a trophy wife or a drama queen.
I wanted them to be mad about the names but There was beauty in the way they weren’t going to be oppressed by any words. they were teaching me how to be a third wave feminist
Said by one participant Who had the taken the bag titled “Size Matters” and I quote I love this bag i need to keep it so I can emasculate every man who sees me end quote
I continued the project and the bags became quite popular almost trendy around campus. As an artist that is a desired effect but my point was to lessen the desire for product and it back fired a bit
I am pretty clear when I sell or trade the bags with another person on why this project is taking place and the results I have gotten. the conversation about the bags is more key and i have stopped shopdropping them but continued the photos.
I failed at getting what I wanted but I learned much more than i expected from the experiance
Perhaps if I had taken photos of the bags on 14 year olds my message would be louder and clearer but its too unsettling for now.
|Type of Work||Printmaking|
|Medium||Silkscreen on cotton tote bag|
|Dimensions||16inx16in tote bag screen print 4 inches by 11 inches|
Rights: All Rights Reserved