photo credit: Ansis Starks

JULY 2020

SupaStore Academy

Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts, Nida, Lithuania

Sarah Staton’s SupaStore, is a lively trading platform for artists and ideas, a mutable pop up that presents small artwork, multiples and editions, from a diverse and fascinating selection of artists. Works by emerging and well known artists have been presented at SupaStore- an ever changing display that has been hosted intermittently by gallery’s, museums, and independent art spaces across the globe.

The first SupaStore popped up in 1993 and was repeated with nuanced variance several times throughout the decade. Installations functioning as working retail stores for artist-made multiples, the SupaStore series both facilitated exchange, referred to and commented ironically on the increasing marketing of creativity. Commercialisation of public space, public spaces formed by infrastructure and architecture for commerce were the topics considered in Staton’s project in the 90s.

In 2014 SupaStore Sleep was presented in Vienna, as a document, and as an archive assembling artworks from the earlier iterations of the project, reanimated with some new artwork. While looking back and analysing modes of artistic production in the 90s in UK, SupaStore Sleep pointed out the role of SupaStore as a site for analogue mechanisms of exchange among the artists back then and to the store’s meaning as a gathering place, a space that by 2014 had shifted online to social media, within neo liberal logics, representing network, swirled by algorithm, feeding capital. 

For SupaStore Air, installed 2016 at Midway Contemporary Art in Minneapolis, Staton in collaboration with curator Egija Inzule invited artists to again produce new works for SupaStoreand to work within the hybrid of a store / exhibition context, an exhibition of small works, of multiples of most awkward kinds.

During Covid-19 the unthinkable was played out: the 21st century, sparkle and shine of unsustainable mass market retail was locked away, mothballed, in high end concessions of empty airports and Dubai malls. In the past weeks, the term “loot” has gained its momentum again, displaying the multifaceted and intertwined relations of US retail models and Europe’s colonial past, sharply pointing out the twisted mindset of capital, while making visible the military efforts that currently are and have been over centuries protecting markets, at uncalculable cost to the many.

So, what does it mean to trade and exchange in our fragile environment? How can artists work with this? How can artists still play shop? With the accumulation of objects sent to Nida, a gathering of a remote kind is intended, working with not against the current times, the assemblage of a market of kinds.