The Walmart Project, 1998-2000

The Wal-Mart Project: The Centennial Society is a collection of handmade objects in the guise of mass-produced commodities. The products were covertly installed in their relative Wal-Mart departments around western New York and Minnesota. Each piece explores an aspect of Wal-Mart’s brand of retail, advertising, planned obsolescence and/or product origin. Many multiples of all seven products were made and put on shelves over the course of two and a half years. A half-hour film about Walmart and the project was also produced.

You can watch an excerpt from the half-hour film about the project with this link

Background on “Shop-dropping” – The term ‘Shop-dropping’ was coined in 2006-07, after the idea grew in popularity (possibly due to Banksy putting art in the MOMA in 2005). This is considered the first example of entirely hand-made political art being ‘shop-dropped’. The two known altered, pre existing products before this were RTMark’s Barbie Liberation Organization swap of Barbie/GI Joe voice boxes, and my favorite example, Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles produced his Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project 1970; the work consisted in altering reusable Coca-Cola bottles by adding questions, slogans or illustrations in a white font that mimicked the bottle’s brand inscriptions. Three examples of these bottles are pictured above, each with a different furtive missive. The bottle on the left bears the phrase, ‘Yankees go home!’; the one in the middle, a labelled diagram of a Molotov cocktail; on the right, the more philosophical query, ‘Which is the place of the work of art?’ 

The “Bric-A-Brac” was put in the “impulse buy section” near the checkout. 
“Kathie Lee XS-Tee”
Kathie Lee XS-Tee installed in Walmart
Inspired by the first gulf war, marketed as “Desert Storm”
Storm on the shelves in Walmart

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