Val-U-Mart is an immersive installation of a convenient store that encourages viewers to explore the connection between (and corruption of) our values & our economics. This two-week exhibit at Pro Arts Gallery in downtown Oakland will feature fake products, in-store installations and performances from local artists. We currently have ~25 artists on deck to contribute, and that number will likely increase to 40 or more by the time the show opens on January 8th.
At first glance, the gallery will look nearly identical to a convenience store. By evoking the familiar and ubiquitous experience of browsing the aisles of a mini-mart, we are creating an opportunity for audience members to examine their consumer choices in a new light. Products will make reference to the tacit and implicit ethics we are supporting when we make purchases. Each item in the store will ask viewers a question, illuminate a hypocrisy, or offer a new perspective of what it means to participate in a capitalist society. Through weaving a classically mindless consumer experience with meaningful, thought-provoking commentary, viewers will have no choice but to reflect deeply on how the ways in which they engage in our economy.
We sent out an RFP for the show in October and have received some incredible proposals. “Aerofina”, a pure bottled air created by Hannah Rothstein, will stock the shelves, highlighting the privilege of access to unpolluted air. Canned soups created by Michael Kerbow will allow us to sell resources extracted from biomes around the world. Ana Rivero Rossi’s “Privilege Raffle” will give viewers the opportunity to take a gamble on changing the way they experience the exhibition. We will feature interactive performances on several event nights, complete with a curmudgeonly staff and fake currency to exchange for products.
We are so excited to create an opportunity for artists and viewers to explore a topic so ripe for commentary in a public space!
Funded by San Francisco, CA (January 2020)