This Artist's 'Plastic Bag Store' Is A Trashy Treasure

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In a world that suggests nothing lasts, plastic is forever. That’s why Brooklyn-based artist Robin Frohardt, 37, is exploring the discrepancy between how briefly we interact with plastic versus how long it stays around in her installation and performance piece, “The Plastic Bag Store.” Originally staged in the Carolina Performing Arts' CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio in Chapel Hill, NC, the piece resembles a grocery store, but the aisles are all lined with plastic bottles, boxes, and containers filled with products made by Frohardt out of plastic bags. “I was at the grocery store watching someone double and triple bag all this food that was already in a bag inside of a box inside of another bag,” she says of the inspiration behind the project. “I was just struck by the absurdity of how much disposable packaging there is in our lives.”

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A work of art as well as a performance space, “The Plastic Bag Store” also hosts puppetry performances in the evenings that offer a tragicomic glimpse into the ways our trash could be interpreted by future generations. “We only use most plastic for a split second,” explains Frohardt, “so I thought it would be funny if in the future people assumed that these things were of great value. Like, why else would we make so much of it and make it so enduring?”

Frohardt’s aim is to create a funny and engaging experience that individuals want to explore. “Because you can walk through the installation like a grocery store, and you can go through the aisles and look at the products,” she says, “you’ll take that with you the next time you’re in [a real] grocery store.” 

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While the installation premiered in Chapel Hill, versions will soon be cropping up in New York and San Francisco. Find out when the piece will be heading your way at PlasticBagStore.org.

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By Katie Shepherd

Photos by Johnny Andrews / UNC-Chapel Hill

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 print issue of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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