Express Avenue Shopping Mall, Chennai
Art Chennai, India
Shop Lifting was a site-specific interactive project that “lifted” the local roadside flower vendors from their usual surroundings of traditional markets in Chennai to a high-end shopping mall…. relocating them in a luxury section of Express Avenue Mall space designed by me. Visitors were allowed to engage with the vendors and buy garlands through the usual routine of bargaining.
The vendors brought with them their personal and sentimental belongings including the photographs of their immediate family and ancestors, along with their own aesthetic sensibilities to display in the shop interior. A detailed research was involved in meeting the local flower vendors, after which a few were selected for the site. Even the shopping board which was put up on the shop was in the local language i.e. Tamil, in sharp contrast to the shops of established international brands with their respective names in English.
This dual temporary migration of the flower-vendors to and from the mall space over a span of two weeks created a pattern of desires, design, tradition and economics, simultaneously addressing the impact of migration on people at a micro-level. Understanding the network of consumerism and its impact on different socio-economic groups became an integral part of this project.