This Wacky Plastic Bag Installation Confronts Our Insatiable Consumerism

This ode to “the foreverness of plastic” is set in a faux supermarket.

Robin Frohardt. Photo Maria Baranova.

If you have a conflicted relationship with the amount of stuff you consume and the trash you generate, theater and film director Robin Frohardt may have just the immersive experience for you. The Plastic Bag Store, dubbed by Frohardt as “a tragicomic ode to the foreverness of plastic,” is set in a faux supermarket that pokes fun at consumerism and contains thousands of items hand-sculpted by the artist from plastic refuse. 

Visitors will see meat, cakes, toiletries, sushi and other everyday items in its next incarnation, opening in May at MASS MoCA, the sprawling museum in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The artist creates fake frozen pizzas and places bottle caps on them as toppings called “capperonni.” A box of “Yucky Shards,” echoing Lucky Charms breakfast cereal, is full of trash. There will also be performances that will employ shadow play, puppetry, and handmade sets to comment on the show’s theme. 

Frohardt has been working on the project since 2015, when she saw someone double-bag a set of goods that were already individually multiply wrapped. She was all set to unveil the project as a puppet show in New York’s Times Square in 2020 when her plans were upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. She shifted the medium to film that employed puppetry, ultimately expanding it into its present form, which has toured cities including Los Angles, Chicago, Adelaide, and Austin. The film is produced by Pomegranate Arts, the team behind productions including the revival of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, Taylor Mac’s epic A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, and Available Light by John Adams, Lucinda Childs, and Frank Gehry.

“MASS MoCA’s presentation of The Plastic Bag Store marks the experience’s first engagement in a museum and its longest run to date,” said the institution’s director Kristy Edmunds. “Beyond the soaring spaces where ideas of scale can stretch out, MASS MoCA, at its core, is about an entrusted relationship with artists where going beyond the fenceline of the familiar is not only possible, it’s elemental. It is also crystal clear that MASS MoCA’s next 25 years must be grounded in durable and environmentally resilient systems. The manifestation of The Plastic Bag Store on our campus—in addition to its long duration and joy-inducing wit—opens pathways for learning and conversation in our community on reducing our collective environmental impact.”

Frohardt has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Creative Capital Award, and multiple Jim Henson Foundation grants. Her films have been selected for the Telluride Film Festival, Aspen Shortsfest, The One Earth Film Festival, and shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. 

The Plastic Bag Store” will be open May 9-September 2, 2024. See more photos below.

Robin Frohardt, The Plastic Bag Store. Photo Maria Baranova.

Robin Frohardt, The Plastic Bag Store. Photo Bailey Holiver.

Robin Frohardt, The Plastic Bag Store. Photo Bailey Holiver.


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