My project is a bodega installation, titled Bodega Babies, housing various food and toiletry items with altered labels commenting on black stereotypes, associations, archetypes, and slurs.
A “bodega” is a convenience store in New York. They typically are stocked with frozen or non-perishable foods, candy, toiletries, tobacco products, household items, and over- the-counter medicine. Although a bodega is associated with New York, this type of corner store tends to be prominent in many densely black populated areas nationwide. For these communities, the proximity to farm markets and grocery stores are far and their regularity is infrequent. The imbalanced ratio of corner stores to grocery stores in black neighborhoods are so great that the lack of access to fresh foods, result in growing dietary-based medical issues amongst America’s black community as a whole.
Bodega Babies is inspired by Swizz Beatz’s “Cold Blooded.” In the song, rapper Pusha T delivers the lyrics “bodega babies, strollers in the snow to the candy lady, that sugar made the monsters of the 90s crazy”. Bodega Babies (the installation) will use the imagery of a corner store as a vessel to display a re-vamped concept of the “you are what you eat” idiom except with the force-fed perceptions and portrayals of blacks in America. The piece will touch upon the themes of environmental racism, Eucledian zoning, food deserts, non-black gaze, prejudice, and relational aesthetics.
Funded by Pittsburgh, PA (December 2020)