It has started. Blue Plastic Bag is upon us, the shops are talking to us and we are listening.
We've spent the last two weeks walking up the great Holloway Road, up to the Archway tower and turning left onto Junction Road. Camera and Tripod at the ready, we have found our faces are becoming more and more recognised now and we are quickly getting nods left, right and centre.
Stacks and stacks and stacks of things, were do we start?
"Walls are a nice invention, but if there were no holes in them there would be no way to get in or out - they would be mausoleums or tombs. The problem is that if you make holes in the walls, anything and anyone can get in [...] So architects invented this hybrid: a wall hole, often called a door, which although common enough has always struck me as a miracle of technology." - Bruno Latour
Q: But... what use is a door when you're open 24/7?
A: The door becomes a wall hole, a portal of constant and unaltered
"They sense that his gaze transforms every food into a document of the history of civilisation, a museum exhibit [...] He knows that if he spends a few more hours in this shop, he will end up convincing himself that he is the profane one, the alien, the outsider." - Italo Calvino
Missing tiles, protests, princesses and long hours. On both parts.
Walking, Walking, Walking. Talking, Talking, Talking. Thank God for Gozleme, I think we are addicted.
Rows and rows of jars and towers of cereal boxes.
We have found paradise and it is a place called Narsi. Kurdistan mind you, not Turkey.
A big thank you to everyone we have interviewed this week (or pushed a camera into their faces).
Premier Food Hall - Tick!
Super Persia - Tick!
Tonight we have had a lovely cup of tea with the manager of Narsi Local, Abdullah, and his good friend Ali at Junction Cafe!
It's been a busy week so far, pasting, building and trying to make monitors work, but at long last we are OPEN FOR BUSINESS!
Lots of visitors today with some amazing comments:
"I know them all."
"I don't agree with plastic bags and I'm a vegetarian."
"I see what it is, it's a catapult for ideas, isn't it."
The Tour is here!
Today at 3.30 pm we will be taking a group of lucky people around the local independent supermarkets of Archway.
The Tour of the Familiar will unfold as a performative and philosophical jaunt, touching on subjects such as the antiquity of checkered floors and the relationship between naming and fortune.
A day off for the 'managers'. We open again tomorrow at 12 noon to re-jig the space and prepare to unleash the world of Yildiz on Archway!
Thank you to everyone who made it to the tour, we hoped you enjoyed it.
Jimmy's used to be Tesco before it became Jimmy's
We finally found Narsi!
Yildiz is our lucky star
Hunz showed us how to cook a cow's foot
What does Princess Diana, Harrods and Premier Food Hall have in common?
You should navigate Super Persia like you navigate Prince of Persia:
Advance, back off, slash or parry.
Archway is hot today and lots of people are looking through the window. Come in, Come in...
"Are you an art gallery or are you a supermarket?"
"That's a good question!"
Tonight is our next event - Counter Talk - 8pm
Counter Talk will be an evening of rapid lectures and performances investigating the extraordinary space between the busy street and the corner shop counter. Using a variety of different voices, with contributions from both artists and academics, the evening will explore the visual language and the hidden quirks of these invisible landmarks.
Grocery shopping, modernity and convenience culture by Celia Plender
Convenience and Tragedy by Madalina Zaharia
Walls with holes in by Ross Taylor
Tidying up from lasts night talk. Sore heads but full hearts as it was a great night!
Thank you to everyone who joined us for a lovely evening .
We would also like to Thank Celia for her brilliant talk last night which opened up our eyes to the complex history and trends of modern supermarkets. Our rotating counter worked a treat and through the hot night we gave the crowd a run for their money. A good crowd of locals and friends, and of course, many locals who have become friends.
The final backdrop is up, Jimmy's world is alive!
We think everybody is enjoying our new animation from the chuckles:
"We sell beer as cold as your ex's heart"
Although we had to convince a few people that we didn't actually sell beer!
This morning we watched as supermarkets pulled up their shutters for a new day. From our glass box we greeted the employees from Yildiz as they set up the shop. From our counter we waved to their counter.
It's our last day in the space but it's a Saturday and the temperature has cooled. Visitors are a plenty and we have tonight to look forward to - 24hrs with Jimmy! We've brought our tent, coffee and sandwiches and we are here to keep you company Sirmund and co.
Blue Plastic Bag is officially now closed for business.
Unlike many of Archway's local supermarkets, the lights have been sadly turned off and the doors locked.
The project has heaved itself a long way from the counter-based chit chat we first initiated. We've tried our hardest to dig out these embedded landmarks that try to lie quietly, we wanted them to sing, and sing they did! We only hoped for a small story but received a chronicle of everyday existence.
Now at the end of two hot and intense weeks, we have certainly met a lot of people, and just as importantly learned a lot about Archway's hidden routines. From our very first shopping trip, we realised that each of these cathedrals of individualism have their own approach, character and feeling. Each is a complex universe, and all seem to spring out of organised chaos.
As the watchers of the High street, they hold all the marvels. Every knick knack behind the counter spoke of it. Every type of food, alien language on a label and strange shaped fruit chipped at, and punctuated, any casual stroll down the street. A place that goes on and on and on and on. And is always there, working in it's way, cross-pollinating, registering and unregistering.
For two brief weeks, we tried to shine a spotlight on them and their significance. And, as we always knew, business will return to normal, but we can trust in them to continue to disrupt and clarify our daily routines.
Good Bye Archway! See you very soon.
Artists: Ross Taylor and Madalina Zaharia.
Documentary contributors: Sirmund Hanif (Jimmy's), Abdullah Aslan (Narsi Local), Hunz and Avi Tahir (Tahir Halal Meat), Hassan Cakantemur (Yildiz), Bengin Biyan (Premier Food Hall) and The Afshin Family (Super Persia).
Counter Talk contributors: Celia Plender.
Photographic Documentation: Courtesy of the artists, Angus Wilson and Seb Lynch.