Photograph by Maria Baranova-Suzuki courtesy of Times Square Arts.
With the new ban on single-use plastic bags hitting New York on March 1, a conversation has been started–and in some cases, continued–about the effects of our consumption on future generations. As important and complex as the topic may be, award-winning Brooklyn-based artist, puppet designer, and director Robin Frohardt has found a way to shine a creative light on consumption, conveniences, and the impact of single-use plastics. Located in Times Square, “The Plastic Bag Store” is an immersive, site-specific public art installation and three-act puppet show, on view from March 18 to April 12 at 20 Times Square.
Photograph by Robin Frohardt courtesy of Times Square Arts.
The installation, featuring original music by Freddi Price and produced by Pomegranate Arts, is a “visually rich, tactile, and humorous experience that hopefully encourages a different way of thinking about the foreverness of plastic, the permanence of the disposable, and that there is no ‘away’ when we throw something out,” according to the artist.
“It is my attempt to make something authentic and human from that which is mass-produced. There is great humor to be found in the pitfalls of capitalism and I find that humor and satire can be powerful tools for social criticism especially with issues that feel too sad and overwhelming to confront directly.”
Photography by Robin Frohardt courtesy of Times Square Arts.
The “store” is an artistic reinterpretation of a typical New York grocery store; instead of groceries, its colorful aisles are stocked with products created with single-use plastic bags upcycled by the artist into handmade versions of everyday supermarket products, from pints of ice cream and rotisserie chickens to cleaning supplies.
The store becomes a theatrical set in the evenings, hosting a puppet show, written by Frohardt, that tells a darkly comedic story of how our plastic waste might be misinterpreted by future generations.
Photograph of Robin Frohardt by Maria Baranova-Suzuki courtesy of Times Square Arts.
According to Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney: “Robin has created the quintessential New York City public artwork–satire, smarts, local politics, global concerns, challenging Times Square’s love affair with consumerism and spectacle, and all within a beautiful project quite literally made for and by New Yorkers, specifically from our trash.”
“The Plastic Bag Store” installation will be free and open to the public to browse. Prior registration is required for free performances due to limited seating. The project will be run by the Times Square Arts Public Art Ambassadors, a new organization that employs artists, arts educators and Times Square Alliance public safety officers and sanitation workers to engage with the public around artists’ projects in the area.
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Photography by Maria Baranova-Suzuki and Robin Frohardt courtesy of Times Square Arts