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about

Let's be real here. Money talks.

In 2008 I felt a distinct sense of schadenfreude -- an almost gleeful joy -- when the art market crashed. The system that had inflated too many and created an unrelentingly economic focus on artistic production was starting to show cracks.

Two years later, Shadowshop started out with a basic assumption: that artists produce. And their production falls within various categories that may or may not be useful or economically viable at different times: from "high" art, to studio sketches, side projects, byproducts, waste, experiments, one-offs, and also commercial work. Despite this, the artworld demands definitions and it demands clarity as much as it absolutely insists on a hierarchy of production and display. Things get chosen to be exhibited. Things get chosen to be written about. And many things fall by the wayside because they lack the proper context.

Shadowshop offered an invitation to a group of Bay Area artists: what would you present in an art project that exists as a store within a contemporary art museum? Not quite a museum gift shop, but everything in it would be forced to relate to a context of commerce and institutional value—a problematic and yet highly realistic assessment of how artistic production is generally weighed and evaluated "in the real world". Here, the scenario is essentially laid bare and exposed: this project looks like and operates like a store. So let the games begin. What could you, would you, do? Commodify yourself? Hate it? Love it? Use it? Be indifferent to it? Leverage it?

Shadowshop is a meditation on both macro and micro-capitalism. What would be possible if I created a system in which artists could utilize the infrastructure of a willing institution to act as a platform for displaying a range of productivity? A place to make not-art art, in some cases. Nothing would cost over $250—on purpose, so as to not compete with existing galleries and to force artists to think on a more intimate, distributable scale, which many already do. Shadowshop funds are channeled towards the express purpose of artists receiving 100% of the sales price of their wares. Potentially this funds future production on an individual level, creates a unique contextual challenge for artists, and exposes museum visitors to artists they may not have otherwise come across.

The wares run an unruly gamut, a reflection of the myriad and sometimes conflicting concerns of the local scene. By presenting a physical redistribution point I hope to give a snapshot of the many ways in which artists are attempting to create small ventures for themselves, at times challenging the very notion of value and compensation. Partially celebratory of the immense wealth of artists located right here in the Bay, and partially critical of the system-at-large which demands us to define what we make in strict relationship to it, Shadowshop tries to offer a way for artists to be at play. Or at least just make some extra income. I see both as valuable in this day and age. We are crass and practical. We are generous. We sell things. We distribute things. Some of us poke fun and yet we are earnest.

Not to mention that everyone loves a gift shop.

-Stephanie Syjuco, October 2010

 

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I would sincerely like to thank the Education and Public Programs at SFMOMA for commissioning Shadowshop for inclusion in the museum’s exhibition The More Things Change. It's hard to imagine another institution taking on such an experiment, not to mention all the logistical complications it entails to house, inventory, and coordinate over hundreds of artists' wares, and for that I am grateful. And last--but certainly not least, as they are the body of the entire project--I would like to express my profound thanks to the fluctuating roster of Bay Area artists who contributed to Shadowshop. Their individual resourcefulness and tenacity is an ovewhelming force of local collective creative capital that deserves much recognition. Thank you again!