Curator: Gretchen Wagner, Curatorial Assistant, Research and Collections, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books, The Museum of Modern Art.
Artists: Julia Christensen, Melissa Dadourian, Anne Daems, Andrew Lynn, Stefanie Nagorka, Keith Pavia, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, Mónika Sziládi, Nicole Tschampel and Bryan Bennett, Brian Ulrich, Ryan Watkins Hughes, and Rosemary Williams
Shopping is a virtually inescapable reality of contemporary American life. Weekends, evenings, lunch hours, and vacations are spent roaming the seductive aisles of box mega-markets, themed shopping centers, discount strip malls, and luxury boutiques, all rapidly claiming the American landscape in the current era of hyper-consumerism. Point of Purchase features works by thirteen artists who turn to these retail spaces for their photographs, drawings, sculptures, videos, installations, and performances. Refusing the store as site for passive consumption, they declare it as a setting for production and experimentation, employing varied strategies to subvert the expected functions of these “cathedrals of shopping.”
Julia Christensen has traveled over 40,000 miles documenting how communities transform abandoned Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target box stores in unique ways. Her video presents a rich visual essay of these architectural structures, their environments, and how they are granted a useful second life. Also touring the United States, Stefanie Nagorka utilizes the aisles of home improvement warehouses throughout the country to construct her sizeable, yet temporary, geometric sculptures out of what ever can be found on the shelves. With the store as her studio, Nagorka investigates how commercial homogenization and regional specificity influence the materials and sites available for her structures. Andrew Lynn maps, in text and image, the international DIY movement Whirl-Mart, an art action he initiated in 2001 at a superstore in Troy, New York. Utilizing tactics of occupation and reclamation, groups around the world currently practice this provocative ritual. Zoë Sheehan Saldaña and Ryan Watkins Hughes come to the exhibition as shopdroppers. Subverting conventional paths of production and supply, they alter or replicate mass-produced products by hand and covertly return the manipulated objects to the shelves for sale. Brian Ulrich’s Copia, a series of large-scale color photographs, is a long-term examination of the excesses of the consumer-dominated culture in which we live. Using a medium-format film camera, he candidly, and beautifully, captures charged interactions between people, merchandise, and architecture in malls. A newcomer to St. Paul, Minnesota, Rosemary Williams investigates the immensely popular nearby landmark – The Mall of America – and her psychological reaction to its overpowering stimuli. Assembling an immense installation, she creates a bold visual record of her visits and her unexpected responses to the space. Turning to New York City’s shopping districts of all sorts, Anne Daems, Mónika Sziládi, and Melissa Dadourian seek out the idiosyncrasies that color these bustling marketplaces. Taking to Fifth and Madison Avenues during the height of “sale” season, Daems photographs women and the shopping bags they carry for her slide projection Woman with Furcoat and Gold Ring – a kind of taxonomy of buying power. Sziládi peers into window displays for her series On Display, searching for passages of disharmony in the slick and highly staged tableaux meant to push the vendor’s wares. Dadourian’s cool and melancholic video Adventure with Kitty follows a solitary girl along Canal Street where she treats herself to a diamond ring, touching upon the intersection of female empowerment and hollow consumerism. Borrowing from the aesthetic vocabularies of retail, Keith Pavia and the collaborative team Nicole Tschampel and Bryan Bennett create site-specific works that playfully edge the Point of Purchase gallery space towards a store environment like no other.