Playing Shop (2017 – )

PLAYING SHOP is live art for kids. We give them something to do, they give us art. Together with Australian choreographer Nat Cursio, I invited children to create their own art fair and pop-up gift shop, subverting the institution of the arts market. A group of 6 – 10 year olds would be appointed various roles within the enterprise and will ultimately be selling their own art to the public for prices determined by us.

Responding to children’s natural inclination towards art-making and playing shop, the project considers the notion of transaction and the fixation on the marketplace as it sits within a contemporary art context: the commodification of art and in turn, the critique of art as a consumption. It is an interactive experience that uses children to transform a contemporary art exhibition into a marketplace and sweatshop. In this first iteration of the work, the children themselves were the artworks; photographed by us; and then turned into postcards, which were quickly made and printed in the time of the session in order to sell to their parents.

PLAYING SHOP is a work that mischievously looks at consumerism and child labour, anarchy and aesthetic value while simultaneously being an exercise in ethical decision-making.

Photography PIER CARTHEW


The first stage of development for PLAYING SHOP was supported by Theatre Works for the Festival of Live Art and the City of Port Phillip through its Cultural Development Fund. Photos by Pier Carthew.