Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Shelf Life

Carson Davis Brown is an American artist. His latest exhibition is a comment on capitalism. He says "Consumption on a global level is not a sustainable practice. Think of the resources we use so we can have 18 flavours of wheat thins- it's overwhelming"
CDB took the idea of the traditional Amish Quilt- a bed spread sewn from simple, regular patterns - and combined it with the vast choices available to the shopper in the average American Supermarket. Allegedly there are about 40,000 different items for sale! Furthermore, in large branches of Walmart, you can also take in a photograph and in their 'personalised gifts' section, they will print it onto a bedspread for you [similar to what Asda does over here with photos on birthday cakes- only larger, and inedible]
So, CDB arranged products on shelves, in a various patterns, photographed them, played around with the colours, and had them printed into bedspreads.
This one is red Coca Cola, disposable partyware, and red/white/blue packs of ziploc bags. Note the plates making circular patterns in the corners.
Here we have lilac and lavender laundry products - but the colour is much more subdued on the quilt. The bright green corner bottles have disappeared into the design.
Blue and white water bottles - some shelves only partly filled to create patterns with the shadows.
Ketchup and sauces - but again the bright reds and vivid yellows have been subdued - note how the sloping arrangement of packets produces a diamond design.
Cereals- golden and royal blue - but toned right down
Packets of biscuits in tricolor colours - and again a diamond design. I think this arrangement works very well.
More cereal packets - on their ends to make vivid primary coloured rectangles, with a bright multicoloured border. On the quilt, those colours are much more washed out.

I think his idea is very clever, and appreciate the time taken to arrange the packets into pleasing patterns. Personally I would not want one of these on my bed. Maybe such a design, utilising coffee packets would make a fun rug for a cafe. 
But the project does highlight how utterly spoilt we are for choice. When I was in Albania, my friend Merita told me that under the old regime, it was often the case that in any one year there was only one style of dress in the shops, in perhaps 3 colours. And only one sort of coffee. That's if there was any coffee at all.
And nobody would have dreamed of photographing the shelf, and then spending the equivalent of £50 having it printed on a personalised bedspread!


  1. Love the idea, very arty. It would make shopping really interesting if all the shelves were like this.

  2. Wow that is so unique! I do know folks that collect Coca Cola stuff that would like the bedspread. Thanks for visiting today.

  3. interesting - love the way artists think. I wouldn't want it on a bed either - but as a quirky wall hanging to provoke debate maybe. Cheers

  4. How clever and I love the idea of art making a statement abot consumerism. I wouldn't mind one on my bed but then IO always did like to be different!


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