Xu Zhen | China b. 1977 | ShanghART Supermarket (Australia) 2007–08 | Mixed media installation: cash register, counter, shelves, refrigerator and multiple consumer product packages | 210 x 610 x 835cm (installed, variable) | Purchased 2008. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
ShanghART Supermarket (Australia) 2007–08
Since the late 1990s, Xu Zhen has emerged as an innovative artist across the fields of photography, installation and video art. His recent installation, ShanghART Supermarket (Australia) 2007-08 forms an incisive and humorous comment on the growth of an increasingly consumerist society, both within and outside China. For ShanghART Supermarket (Australia), Xu Zhen has meticulously reconstructed a typical modern Chinese supermarket, complete with fluorescent banners, shelving, refrigerators, cash registers, counters and even staff. However unlike an actual supermarket, in Xu Zhen’s shop each container is empty, containing nothing but air; yet each is for sale in this unusual economy. Despite their emptiness, customers purchase products by the bagful and an essential part of the installation is the transition from being fully stocked to being partly empty. This work reflects on wider notions of value, meaning, economic status, consumer-driven desire and the significance assigned to certain practices and items within society.