Disposable Future: “The Plastic Bag Store” at MASS MoCA (2024)

Mass MoCAis an excellent venue for artists to engage in world building. Robin Frohardt’s “The Plastic Bag Store,” tucked away in the recesses of Building 1, is no exception. Resembling more of a bodega than a grocery store (or art gallery), this faux-mart doesn’t actually sell anything. Instead, visitors will find fruits and vegetables, baguettes, cupcakes, sausage links, deli meat, junk food, flowers, cereal, soda—even cigarettes and magazines—made from or containing plastic trash. The objects, which visitors are encouraged to touch, aren’t breathtakingly transformative. Instead, many dry goods house single-use plastic garbage inside sleek and seemingly new packaging.

I should clarify: Visitors are ticket holders. After 10 minutes of browsing the store’s inventory, a pleasant intercom voice announces the start of the performance and apron-wearing museum staff roll away shelves and Gaylord boxes, unfold the produce display, and transform the store into a theater.

click to enlarge

Photo: Julia Dixon

Installation detail.

What follows is a one-hour immersive and singular theatrical experience involving film, puppetry, and live performance. A film plays first. Act One introduces us to Thaddeaus, an ancient European who invents a “single-use disposable vase” that contains “Knowledge Water,” meant to be thrown away once consumed.

“What is ‘away’?” asks his mother. “Where’s that?”

“I dunno—somewhere outside of town,” Thaddeaus replies.

click to enlarge

Julia Dixon

Installation Detail

Set in modern times, Act Two follows a character named Helen, a janitor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she collects various pieces of plastic detritus she encounters throughout the day—a water bottle, a cup lid with straw, and a six-pack ring. Once home, and after learning from a television program that plastics live forever, she pens a tender and, at times, wry letter to “Far-Off Future Person.” The letter becomes a message in a bottle, found by said
Far-Off Future Person in Act Three.

Frohardt’s storytelling, puppet design, and intricate sets—coupled with moving puppetry performances, a mesmerizing score by Freddi Price, and skillful photography and sound design by Robert Kolodny and Chad Raines—elevate the film from dramatized advocacy to a poetic fable.

click to enlarge

Maria Baranova

Installation detail.

The show is also chock full of brand symbolism, tongue-in-cheek references to consumer culture, and other jabs at American capitalism. “I’m more interested in calling out the corporations that are creating the problem,” says Frohardt. “I don’t want to shame people…but we definitely can’t recycle our way out of this.”

The exhibition’s activity guide spells out the problem in no uncertain terms: “Imagining a world without plastics is nearly impossible [but] plastic doesn’t decompose; it only breaks down into microplastics which have been found in the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the soil below us, and even inside of our bodies.” The guide offers information, poses questions, makes suggestions, and presents challenges, such as inventorying a week’s waste, avoiding plastic-wrapped consumables, and finding alternatives to single-use plastic products.

click to enlarge

Julia Dixon

The back of a box of “Italy’s #1 Plastic Bags,” a spoof on Barilla pasta.

Start with a small change to begin with, it says, and then challenge yourself more over time.

But we have been at this for a long time, haven’t we? We watched An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning 2006 climate change documentary. The 2015 video of a plastic straw being removed from the nostril of a sea turtle has been viewed over 86 million times on YouTube. We bring our fabric bags to the supermarket, purchase reusable coffee filters for our Keurig machines, religiously refill our BPA-free Nalgene water bottles and stainless-steel Stanley tumblers, and buy expensive bamboo cutlery for our Fourth of July picnics.

click to enlarge

Greg Nesbit

“The Plastic Bag Store” installation view at MASS MoCA.

What else can we do? Frohardt doesn’t have any answers. But her message lingers, but not because of the punny products or the bag-themed playlist. The film in particular is a gentle, touching, sincere reminder of what is happening to the Earth, and asks us to, at the very least, acknowledge it.

“I wish I could do more,” writes Helen. “But I am but a humble custodian.”

“The Plastic Bag Store” is presented in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival and is on view through September 2. Reservations required.

Location Details

MASS MoCA

1040 Mass Moca Way, North Adams

(413) 662-2111

www.massmoca.org

') let lineHeight = jQuery('[line-height-check]').get(0).clientHeight; jQuery('[line-height-check]').remove() if (jQuery(element).prop('tagName').match(/HIDDEN/i) !== null) { jQuery(element).children('div').last().css({ marginBottom: `${lineHeight*2}px` }); } else { jQuery(element).css({ marginTop: `${lineHeight*2}px`, marginBottom: `${lineHeight}px` }); } // const insertionBlockClass = `fdn-paragraph-insertion-block`; const styleElementHook = `fdn-paragraph-insertion-styles`; jQuery(element).addClass(insertionBlockClass); if (jQuery(`[${styleElementHook}]`).length === 0) { jQuery('div.fdn-content-body, div #storyBody').append('

') const paragraphLineHeight = jQuery('[line-height-check]').get(0).clientHeight; jQuery('[line-height-check]').remove() const styleElement = jQuery(`

`); const styleText = ` div.fdn-content-body br+.${insertionBlockClass}:not([hidden]), div #storyBody br+.${insertionBlockClass}:not([hidden]) { margin-top: ${paragraphLineHeight*2}px; margin-bottom: ${paragraphLineHeight}px; } div.fdn-content-body br+.${insertionBlockClass}[hidden] > div:last-of-type, div #storyBody br+.${insertionBlockClass}[hidden] > div:last-of-type { margin-bottom: ${paragraphLineHeight*2}px; } ` styleElement.text(styleText); jQuery('head').append(styleElement); } // } } jQuery(element).insertBefore(this.paragraphEndNodes[index]); } else { console.warn('Foundation.ParagraphTool.insertElemenAt: invalid insertion index', index); } } this.insertElemenAtEnd = function (element) { if (this.paragraphEndNodes.length) { let lastNode = this.getNodeAtIndex(this.paragraphEndNodes.length -1); if (this.isDoubleBrParagraphBreak(lastNode) || this.isBrParagraphBreakBeforeBlockElement(lastNode)) { if (jQuery(element).get(0).tagName.match(/SCRIPT/i) !== null) { jQuery('
').insertAfter(this.paragraphEndNodes[index]); jQuery('
').insertAfter(this.paragraphEndNodes[index]); } else { jQuery('div.fdn-content-body, div #storyBody').append('

') let lineHeight = jQuery('[line-height-check]').get(0).clientHeight; jQuery('[line-height-check]').remove() if (jQuery(element).prop('tagName').match(/HIDDEN/i) !== null) { jQuery(element).children('div').last().css({ marginBottom: `${lineHeight*2}px` }); } else { jQuery(element).css({ marginTop: `${lineHeight*2}px`, marginBottom: `${lineHeight}px` }); } } } } this.bodyContainer.append(element); } this.getNodeAtIndex = function (index) { return this.paragraphEndNodes[index]; } }

`); } var paragraphCount = myParagraphTool.getParagraphEndNodeCount(); // No need to insert if there aren't enough paragaphs if (paragraphCount >= parseInt(item.requiredCountToDisplay)) { // Matches specific paragraph insertion indexes if (item.insertPoint.match(/^\d+$/) !== null) { var insertIndex = parseInt(item.insertPoint) - 1; // Insert within content if (insertIndex < paragraphCount) { myParagraphTool.insertElemenAtIndex(componentElement, insertIndex); } // Append to the end if the insert point is beyond the paragraph count else { myParagraphTool.insertElemenAtEnd(componentElement) } } // Matches for 1/2, 1/4, 2/3, 5/6, etc else if (item.insertPoint.match(/^[1223456]\/[23456]$/) !== null) { var fractionMatch = new RegExp(/^([123456])(?:\/)([23456]$)/); var fractionPart = parseInt(item.insertPoint.match(fractionMatch)[1]); var fractionWhole = parseInt(item.insertPoint.match(fractionMatch)[2]); var fractionValue = fractionPart / fractionWhole; var fractionIndex = Math.floor(myParagraphTool.paragraphEndNodes.length * fractionValue) - 1; myParagraphTool.insertElemenAtIndex(componentElement, fractionIndex); } // Matches for every Nth insertion point else if (item.insertPoint.match(/^\d*th$/i) !== null) { var intervalIndex = parseInt(item.insertPoint.match(/^(\d*)th$/i)[1]); var startingIndex = parseInt(item.startingPoint) - 1; var insertionMax = parseInt(item.maxInsertions) || 100; var insertionCount = 0; for (var i = startingIndex; i < myParagraphTool.paragraphEndNodes.length && insertionCount < insertionMax; i++) { if ((i - startingIndex) % intervalIndex === 0) { let currentNode = myParagraphTool.getNodeAtIndex(i); const clonedComponent = componentElement.clone(); myParagraphTool.insertElemenAtIndex(clonedComponent, i); insertionCount++; } } } } }); Foundation.Content['20824427'].setupInlineComponents = function () { return true; }; if (typeof callback === 'function') { callback(); } }, 200); } Foundation.Content['20824427'].previewInsertionPoints = function () { var myParagraphTool = Foundation.Content['20824427'].paragraphTool myParagraphTool.paragraphEndNodes.each((index, item) => { const insertionPointPlaceholder = jQuery(`

Insertion point ${index+1}

`) myParagraphTool.insertElemenAtIndex(insertionPointPlaceholder, index); }); return 'Paragraph insertion placeholders applied.'; }

Tags

  • Visual Art,
  • plastic bags,
  • pollution,
  • plastic bag store,
  • mass moca,
  • Robin Frohardt

Comments(0)

'); } else if (jQuery(this).attr("id") == "sortSelect"){ jQuery("#Comments [uk-spinner]").show(); } var url = "/arts/disposable-future-the-plastic-bag-store-at-mass-moca-20824427"; var myStart = jQuery(this).attr("id") == "sortSelect" ? "1" : jQuery(this).attr("rel"); var showAllComments = jQuery(this).attr("id") == "showAllComments" ? "yes" : "no"; if (!myStart) var myStart = "1"; var mySort = jQuery("#sortSelect").val() || "desc"; /* commented out to prevent jacking up

HTML / JS syntax highlighting */ var params = { sort: mySort, ajaxComponent: componentId, startIndex: myStart, cb: commentCB(), showAll: showAllComments }; jQuery.ajax({ url: commentComponentUrl, data: (params), dataType: 'json', success: function (data) { jQuery("#"+componentId+"_PaginationBottom").remove(); jQuery("#"+componentId+"_commentContent .brandNewComment").remove(); jQuery("#Comments [uk-spinner]").hide(); if (data.nocomments == false) { jQuery('.fdn-comments-header-block').removeClass('uk-hidden') } if (myStart == "1") { jQuery("#"+componentId+"_commentContent") .html(data.html); } else { jQuery("#"+componentId+"_commentContent").append(data.html); } } }); }; function removeEdit(oid){ if (oid){ jQuery("#Comments-comment-" + oid + " .brandNewComment .newCommentOptions") .fadeOut(function(){ jQuery(this).remove(); }) } } // function getComment(oid, commentLimit){ var url = "/arts/disposable-future-the-plastic-bag-store-at-mass-moca-20824427"; var limitMsg = commentLimit ? "

\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n Note: Since you've already made live comments \r\n to day(s)ay, this and any additional comments in this timeframe will be \r\n reviewed by our staff before being made live. Thank you for your contribution!\r\n \r\n\r\n <\/div>" : ''; var commentListWrapper = "

    " + "<\/ul>"; if (oid){ var params = { ajaxComponent: componentId, commentOid: oid, cb: commentCB() }; jQuery.ajax({ url: commentComponentUrl, data: (params), success: function (data) { jQuery('span.descriptionWordsLeft').text("0"+" words left.") jQuery('progress.postCommentTextProgress').attr('value','0') function insertNewComment () { // if (jQuery(commentListWrapperSel).length == 0){ jQuery("#"+componentId+"_commentContent") .append(commentListWrapper) } // jQuery(commentListWrapperSel) .append(limitMsg+data) .find(".brandNewComment") .fadeIn(); var reEditTime = 300000 var t=setTimeout(function(){removeEdit(oid)},reEditTime); var progressSel = '#' + componentId + '-comment-' + oid + ' [fdn-comment-edit-options] progress' var timerSel = '#' + componentId + '-comment-' + oid + ' [fdn-edit-timer]' jQuery(progressSel) .attr('max', reEditTime) .attr('value', 0) var countDown = setInterval(function(){ var val = parseInt(jQuery(progressSel).val()) || 0 val = Math.min(reEditTime, val + 1000) var minutes = Math.floor((reEditTime - val) / 1000 / 60 % 10) var seconds = Math.floor((reEditTime - val) / 1000 % 60) .toString().replace(/^\d$/, function(m) { return '0' + m }) jQuery(progressSel).val(val) jQuery(timerSel) .text(minutes + ':' + seconds) if(val >= reEditTime - 1000){ clearInterval(countDown) } },1000) var myTotal = parseInt(jQuery("#comments_total").text(), 10); myTotal++; updateCommentTotals(false,myTotal); } jQuery('.fdn-comments-header-block').removeClass('uk-hidden') insertNewComment() } }); } } function doLikeComment(e){ e.preventDefault(); if (!this.clicked){ var oid = jQuery(this).attr("data-commentOid"); jQuery("#Comments #"+oid+"_likeLinks a").addClass("dimmed").css("opacity","0.4").each(function(){this.clicked = true;}); var myCurrentLikes = jQuery("#"+oid+"_rating_likes").html() || 0; var myCurrentDislikes = jQuery("#"+oid+"_rating_dislikes").html() || 0; var thisRating = jQuery(this).attr("rel"); if (thisRating == "Like"){ myCurrentLikes = parseFloat(myCurrentLikes)+1; } else { myCurrentDislikes = parseFloat(myCurrentDislikes)+1; } // var myNewLine = '' + myCurrentLikes + ' like'; // if (myCurrentLikes != 1) { // myNewLine += 's'; // } // myNewLine += ', ' + '' + myCurrentDislikes + ' dislike'; // if (myCurrentDislikes != 1) { // myNewLine += "s"; // } // jQuery("#"+oid+"_rating_sub").html(myNewLine); // jQuery("#"+oid+"_rating_sub").show(); var params = { oid: oid, rating: thisRating, cb: commentCB() }; jQuery.ajax({ url: "/gyrobase/Tools/AjaxLike", type: "POST", data: (params), dataType: 'json', success: function (data) { console.log(data) jQuery("#"+data.oid+"_rating_likes").html(data.rating.likes) jQuery("#"+data.oid+"_rating_dislikes").html(data.rating.dislikes) if (thisRating == "Like"){ jQuery("#Comments #"+oid+"_likeLinks a.dislike").removeClass("dimmed").css("opacity","1").each(function(){this.clicked = false;}); } else { jQuery("#Comments #"+oid+"_likeLinks a.like").removeClass("dimmed").css("opacity","1").each(function(){this.clicked = false;}); } } }); } } function reportComment(e){ e.preventDefault(); e.stopPropagation(); var oid = jQuery(this).attr("rel"); var elem = jQuery("#"+oid+"_report"); elem.click(function(e){e.stopPropagation();}) if (!elem.is(":visible")){ if (elem.is(":empty")){ var params = { // oid: oid, ajaxComponent: componentId, requestAction: "reportComment", cb: commentCB() }; jQuery.ajax({ url: commentComponentUrl, // componentURL, data: (params), dataType: 'json', success: function (data) { console.log(data) if(data.reportForm.html){ elem.html(data.reportForm.html); UIkit.modal(jQuery('#'+data.reportForm.oid+'_report_modal')) .show(); } } }); } else { UIkit.modal(jQuery('#'+oid+'_report_modal')).show(); } } } function submitReport(e){ var params = jQuery(e).closest("form").serialize()+"&ajaxComponent="+componentId+"&requestAction=reportComment"; jQuery.ajax({ url: commentComponentUrl, // componentURL, type: "POST", data: (params), dataType: 'json', success: function (data) { console.log(data) if(data.reportResult.html){ UIkit.modal(jQuery('#'+data.reportResult.oid+'_report_modal')) .hide(); jQuery('#'+data.reportResult.oid+'_report_result') .html(data.reportResult.html) UIkit.modal(jQuery('#'+data.reportResult.oid+'_report_success_modal')) .show(); setTimeout(function(){ UIkit.modal(jQuery('#'+data.reportResult.oid+'_report_success_modal')) .hide(); }, 2500); } } }) } (function($) { var subscribed=false; function showFollowPanel(e){ e.preventDefault(); myPanel = $(this).parent().next(".togglePanel"); myPanel.fadeIn("fast"); } function doSubscribe(obj){ var myPanel = obj.parent().next(".togglePanel"); myPanel.fadeIn("fast"); if (!subscribed){ var myLink = obj.parent(); var myLoader = myPanel.children(".loading"); var myUpdater = myPanel.children(".ajaxUpdater"); var params = { object: myPanel.attr("data-toolsoid"), macro: myPanel.attr("data-toolsajaxmacro"), url: window.location }; $.ajax({ url: "/gyrobase/Macros/ToolsAjax", data: (params), type: "POST", dataType: "html", success: function (data) { subscribed = true; if (myUpdater){ myUpdater.html(data); myLoader.fadeOut("fast", function(){ myUpdater.fadeIn("fast", function(){ setTimeout(function(){ myPanel.fadeOut("fast"); }, 3000); }); }); } else { myPanel.fadeOut("fast"); } } }); } } function activateSubscribe(e){ e.preventDefault(); var myObj = $(this); var isAuthenticated = Foundation.SessionManager.sharedSessionManager().isAuthenticated(); if (!isAuthenticated){ new Foundation.Login.Dialog({ "feelingShy": false, "callback": function(){doSubscribe(myObj);} }); return false; } else { // Proceed doSubscribe(myObj); } } function deleteComment(e){ e.preventDefault(); var thisComment = $(this); var params = { macro: "deleteComment", comment: thisComment.attr("data-comment") }; $.ajax({ url: "/gyrobase/Macros/ToolsAjax", data: (params), type: "POST", dataType: "html", success: function (data) { thisComment.closest(".brandNewComment").fadeOut("fast", function(){ $(this).remove(); var myTotal = parseInt(jQuery("#comments_total").text(), 10); myTotal--; updateCommentTotals(false,myTotal); }); } }); } function editComment(e){ e.preventDefault(); var thisComment = $(this); var commentCont = thisComment.closest(".brandNewComment").find(".description"); var commentTemp = thisComment.closest(".brandNewComment").find(".commentTemp"); var commentText = commentTemp.html(); var toolbar = thisComment.closest(".brandNewComment").find(".commentToolbar"); commentCont.next(".commentEditCont").remove(); commentCont.after(''); toolbar.fadeOut("fast"); commentCont.fadeOut("fast", function(){ commentCont.next(".commentEditCont").fadeIn("fast", function(){ $(".brandNewComment textarea.expandableBox").autoBoxResize(); $(".brandNewComment textarea.expandableBox").focus(); }); }); } function editCommentSave(e){ e.preventDefault(); var thisComment = $(this); var editCont = thisComment.closest(".commentEditCont"); var commentTemp = thisComment.closest(".brandNewComment").find(".commentTemp"); var newText = thisComment.prevAll("textarea").val(); var toolbar = thisComment.closest(".brandNewComment").find(".commentToolbar"); var params = { macro: "editComment", comment: thisComment.attr("data-comment"), commentText: newText }; $.ajax({ url: "/gyrobase/Macros/ToolsAjax", data: (params), type: "POST", success: function (data) { if (data.error){ $(".editErrorDisplay").html("
  1. "+data.error+"

").fadeIn("fast"); } else if (data.result){ editCont.fadeOut("fast", function(){ $(".editErrorDisplay").hide().html("

    "); editCont.prev(".description").html($.trim(data.result)); commentTemp.html(newText); editCont.prev(".description").fadeIn("fast"); toolbar.fadeIn("fast"); }); } } }); } function editCommentCancel(e){ e.preventDefault(); var editCont = $(this).closest(".commentEditCont"); var toolbar = $(this).closest(".brandNewComment").find(".commentToolbar"); editCont.fadeOut("fast", function(){ $(".editErrorDisplay").hide().html("

      "); editCont.prev(".description").fadeIn("fast"); toolbar.fadeIn("fast"); editCont.remove(); }); } $("#Comments").on('click', ".bottomOptionBar a#doSubscribe", activateSubscribe); $("#Comments").on('click', ".bottomOptionBar a.togglePanelClose", function(){$(this).parent().fadeOut("fast"); return false;}); $("#Comments").on('click', ".brandNewComment a.commentDeleteLink", deleteComment); $("#Comments").on('click', ".brandNewComment a.commentEditLink", editComment); $("#Comments").on('click', ".brandNewComment a.doneEditLink", editCommentSave); $("#Comments").on('click', ".brandNewComment a.cancelEditLink", editCommentCancel); })(jQuery); jQuery(function($){ // var commentWordLimit = 0 if(commentWordLimit > 0){ jQuery('textarea[name=comment]').on('input propertychange',function(){ var originalText = jQuery(this).prop('value') var wordList = originalText.trim().split(/\s+/) var wordsUsed = wordList[0] == "" ? 0 : wordList.length var wordsLeft = Math.max(0,commentWordLimit - wordsUsed) jQuery('span.descriptionWordsLeft').text(wordsLeft+" words left.") jQuery('progress.postCommentTextProgress').val(wordsUsed) if(wordsUsed > commentWordLimit){ // var shortenedMatch = new RegExp("^([^\\s]*\\s+){" + (commentWordLimit-1) + "}[^\\s]{1,10}","gi") var shortenedText = shortenedMatch.exec(originalText)[0] jQuery(this).prop('value', shortenedText) } if(wordsLeft < commentWordLimit){ jQuery('span.descriptionWordsLeft').text(wordsLeft+" words left.") jQuery('progress.postCommentTextProgress').val(wordsUsed) }else{ jQuery('span.descriptionWordsLeft').text('') jQuery('progress.postCommentTextProgress').val(0) } }) } $("#Comments").on('click', '#showMoreComments,#showAllComments', getMoreComments); $("#Comments #sortSelect").change(getMoreComments); getMoreComments(); // new Foundation.PostCommentComponent(componentId); // var nc = Foundation.NotificationCenter.sharedNotificationCenter(); nc.observe("comment:added", function (e) { var comment = e.data; getComment(comment.get("oid"), comment.get("commentLimit")); // clear rating if (jQuery(".commentFormRating").length != 0){ Foundation.Rating['[data-component-id="Comments"] .commentFormRating'] .clearRating() } }); var subscribeCheckBox = $("#Comments_commentSubscribe"); subscribeCheckBox.prop("checked", getCookie("subscribeToThread") === "true" ? true : false); subscribeCheckBox.change(function (e) { var subscribeToThread = $(this).prop("checked"); setCookie("subscribeToThread", subscribeToThread ? "true" : "false", 30); }); var shareFacebookBox = $("#Comments_postCommentToFacebook"); shareFacebookBox.prop("checked", getCookie("shareOnFacebook") === "true" ? true : false); shareFacebookBox.change(function (e) { var shareOnFacebook = $(this).prop("checked"); setCookie("shareOnFacebook", shareOnFacebook ? "true" : "false", 30); }); $("#Comments").on('click', 'a.likeLink', doLikeComment); $("#Comments").on('click', 'a.reportCommentLink', reportComment); });

      Disposable Future: “The Plastic Bag Store” at MASS MoCA (2024)

      References

      Top Articles
      Latest Posts
      Article information

      Author: Arielle Torp

      Last Updated:

      Views: 5606

      Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

      Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

      Author information

      Name: Arielle Torp

      Birthday: 1997-09-20

      Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

      Phone: +97216742823598

      Job: Central Technology Officer

      Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

      Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.