I have been collected used thick plastic bags for years and years. They are so durable, and perform this function of carrying your purchases home, and then being discarded. When new, they seem like a fashion accessory, people with armfuls of them in the city. All crinkling and shining. I saw one from an expensive designer that was so stylised, ornate and decorative, I wondered if the contents could be as ostentatious as the outer packaging. Possibly, as these days 'gaudy' has achieved a whole new status of being coveted. I really wanted that bag! Sometimes I want to ask people on the train to do a swap, as the colours of their bags are so extreme, and are not represented in my rainbow (above). No more swags bundled up in a bandana for us!
I have collected through different friends and family, all women: Kate Sowerby, Raquel Ormella, Olga Jakubovsky, Anne Kay, Josie Cavallaro, Lisa Kelly, Jane Goffman, Ngaire Worboys, Beth Eldridge, Shobhna Kumar and Sophie O'Brien to name a few. For this show, I got the MCA to collect for me. They also bought the lights, which I wanted to enhance the transparent qualities.
I like the dual possibilities of this title, it implies what is thrown away, and also is contentious in this time of re-cycling, as we are asked to refuse shopping bags.
I removed the logos and had them hung upside down on the bamboo sticks, coming out of the wall like banners, but the original idea was from a picture of washing lines in the past, hanging out of windows given to me by Lisa Kelly. I liked removing the logos. It was quite therapeutic, just cutting through plastic is satisfying, and erasing the designer's graphic imprint was exciting. Leaving traces of their handiwork, for sure, but eradicating their grip on the proposal to advertise felt deviant. What about copyright? Leaving these traces also has the effect of creating an architectural plan. What better urban development thing, as this is what houses our ever-increasing demands.
I do not shop very much. I haven't got the money! I don't work enough, and never work full time and haven't the desire for money that entails getting it together visavis making it. But I want to consume! As a teenager I did a lot of shoplifting. As a forty year old I still want new things, yet am satisfied with what I have. I see people in malls crowded day in and out, seemingly purchasing rigorously. Maybe they have all just lost their stuff in a fire, how do I know? I can't assume that everyone in the mall is there regularly, except the staff...some people do shop as a hobby, and as therapy. I guess in the past we would gather. I would rather be gathering firewood quite frankly, as long as I had enough to keep me warm and comfy clothing wise.
I do like a change. I change my hair colour often. I read different books. I travel to new places. I meet new people and try new things. Do I have to be involved in this shopping spree? I am involved! Some of my family are shop-a-holics. They have more than one of everything, and are always buying new things, to make their lives easier, and their houses nicer. Good on 'em, I get their throw-outs! As a matter of fact I probably wouldn't collect nearly as much as I do if it weren't for people re-furbishing and renovating. I happen to like the used and pre-loved (then chucked!) pieces. They speak of character and the past. Hell, one could build a house on what is thrown out in my suburb each week. Our waste is astronomical. I can just do what I can.
This piece will be ongoing, I envision a warehouse of the world's shopping bags, hung like the bloody United Nations!