Duration Works: Product Drawings Series, 20

Throughout 2007, a suburban Coles supermarket was used as a site for physical, spatial and conceptual investigations into sculpture.  Products were taken off the shelves to create ephemeral installations and again re-shelved during the stores closing hours. These interventions were documented through photography and moving image which formed the Duration Works: Product Drawings Series, 2007. 

In early 2008, an exhibition was held inside the supermarket in which five videos from the Duration Works: Product Drawings Series, 2007 were projected into the shopping aisles in which they were made and filmed.  For two hours, the stock standard supermarket operated as a gallery with thirty invited guests, complete with attentive gallery guards and equipped with the opening night cart supplying refreshments and drinks.  The documentation from the exhibition (still photographs, moving image and the stores surveillance footage) then formed the video triptych Moving Document: Supermarket Exhibition, 2008 exhibited in the 2008 Next Wave Festival as part of the Screen Program at Kings ARI.


“Resembling barrier-like Lego structures created using an action-oriented process, Abude has referenced Richard Serra’s Verb List Compilation (1967-68), embedding verbs such as ‘to arrange’ and ‘to cover’ into the process of constructing these sculptural forms.” Goh, Leon Works from the Remote Program, 2008 Next Wave Festival Text Camp Reader, June 2008, p.13

How was the space first identified and who was contacted to secure it?

The supermarket was the place of part-time employment of the artist. The space was secured as a site for the on-going creation of works in 2007 in a verbal agreement with the Coles Supermarket Store Manager. Anything could be done inside the store between the hours of 12 mid-night and 6am as long as the aisles were restored to normal (all the products went back on the shelves) upon opening of the store for trading in the morning. The store was later secured as a venue for the exhibition in 2008 with the Coles Regional Manager.

What was required to secure the space?

The trust between employer and employee and the years of employment at the supermarket helped to secure the space. Keeping the Store Manager well informed about what was actually happening overnight inside the store. Written permission similar to an application for a gallery exhibition was later submitted to the Regional Manager expressing an interest in the supermarket as a space to hold a show

What needed to be provided by you as hirer or user of the space?

A timeline needed to be provided by the artist to demonstrate how the supermarket would be brought back to its original state after the exhibition.

What were the costs?

There were no hire costs involved in using the supermarket as a venue for the exhibition. The additional costs involved in putting on the show inside the supermarket (food, drinks, purchasing of glasses, table linen, power cords, screens, metal poles, hire of AV equipment - video cameras, projectors and dvd players) were supplied by the artist.

What were the resources available to you?

Surveillance footage from each video camera within the store was made available for use as documentation of the event. The Victorian College of the Arts Sculpture Department provided the loan of AV equipment - video cameras, projectors and dvd players.

Who helped you to fit it out?

Works from the Duration Works: Product Drawings Series, 2007 were made by the artist. Employees of the supermarket/work colleagues and friends of the artist assisted in the opening of the exhibition.

What were/are the obstacles?

Time restrictions proved to be a challenge as there were only two and a half hours for set-up/ installation as the exhibition opened at 2:30AM. The exhibition ran for two hours until 4:30AM, which then left only one and half hours for pack-up before the store opened at 6:00AM for trading.

What were/are the risks?

The risks included not being fully set up upon arrival of guests to the exhibition and not being able to pack all AV equipment up again before the store re-opened.