Later, we revisited this theme, when the failure of town-planners to see the benefit of a temporary public sculpture, gave us the opportunity to work within an empty shop window instead. Briefed to highlight waste and recycling issues, we returned to the source of much household waste - the advertisers, designers and manufacturers of the product packaging which seduces us all into our purchases.
Objects of Desire was born and became a high street shop window installation made almost entirely of recycled materials. In showing that we can literally re-package rubbish to become a desirable object we ridicule our gullibility in a market-led culture. Our role in this is not to preach or blame, for we are all vulnerable to falling for the glamour and illusion of the marketers and image-makers. As artists we paint out and question the anomalies, but we laugh at ourselves alongside the viewer.
A couple of years pass and then we are collaborating with two more artists to create A-mart, the art supermarket. Repeated at Christmas over three consecutive years, A-mart brought together multiples and readymades by over 80 artists in a mock supermarket setting.
Kiosk emerged in 2008 as a gallery installation from the "Messages" residency with The Study Gallery of Modern Art in Poole. And now Kiosk has become a container for this strand of work and we can return to it again and again, adding and altering for each new context and venue.
Kiosk includes our own artworks recycled into it, such as the Tobacco Shrine, made obsessively whilst giving up smoking; photographs of toys and other kiosks taken on our travels. Junk mail paintings, collaged CD covers, broken toys, and kitschy collectors items come together and find their place in Kiosk.
The materials that Kiosk is constructed from have had past lives. The main panels have been recycled four times; wood from a shop refit, made into display screens for Objects of Desire were later built into an artspace at a homeless centre, and after being used for several years they were retrieved by us from the skip when it closed down. They’ve now made it into the structure of Kiosk.
At the time of writing this in May 2011, Kiosk has found a temporary home in an empty trader’s stall in Newport Indoor Market, South Wales as part of the Open Empty Spaces initiative. Here in an everyday working market we find ourselves preoccupied with the current economic and political climate, as well as the tragedies, both natural and man-made, of international affairs.
Feelings of anger and powerlessness in the face of injustice, corruption or indifference, seem to require laughter and irony as a defence and a release. Art can sometimes change the world, but more likely can alter our experiences of the world to make it bearable or comprehensible or maybe even inspirational for a moment or two.
The message in the work is funny, but is not a joke; the work is not just frivolity - it shows that “We all know what's going on!” We are not completely fooled by clever marketing, smooth talking or political rhetoric, and that through art we can maybe glimpse another reality, another way of being in this world that gives us hope.
At a time when we see vulnerable people exposed to uncertainty and fear, valued organisations closing and being cut-up and dismantled, where charities are told to keep quiet and to stop writing letters of protest and advised not to "use up their political capital" or "there will be no help in the future!" - we hope we can still make art speak above the dry, empty rattle of pragmatism.
Kiosk is an ongoing piece of work that mutates and changes as it finds new places to reside and new audiences to lure. If you want to know when and where it might appear again, send us an email and we will add you to our mailing list.
Julia Warin & Jeff Pigott