XUZHEN SUPERMARKET is a replica of a standard corner convenience store, fully stocked with everyday items. The only catch is that behind their labels, all of the packages are empty. Visitors can participate in the work by purchasing goods off the shelves from a cashier and taking their items home. A commentary on the art market and consumerism as a whole, the project was first staged at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2007 as SHANGHART SUPERMARKET, and went on to be staged at multiple sites around the world. The fact that Sotheby’s is auctioning the concept behind the work adds another layer of irony to a work of art centered around buying an empty box.
Sotheby’s announced today the special sale of XUZHEN SUPERMARKET at their Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong September 30. Though it may sound straightforward, the auction house isn’t selling a family grocery store—they’re selling the idea behind and future execution of an art installation. Estimated at $115,000-192,000, the concept behind the interactive work of art and the rights to reproduce it are being sold via a partnership with contemporary Chinese artist Xu Zhen. XUZHEN SUPERMARKET is the first art concept, art object not included, to be offered at auction in Asia.
Xu Zhen, the artist behind the brand XU ZHEN® and the supermarket XUZHEN, is a leading figure in contemporary Chinese art. The youngest Chinese artist ever to exhibit at the Venice Biennale, Xu Zhen was recently included in the Guggenheim's Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, opening November 10 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Xu Zhen works in photography, video, performance and installation often use humor to make social commentary.
Said the arist of the sale, "I am delighted that XUZHEN SUPERMARKET will be offered at an international auction, which escalates the work to a new level of breaking boundaries and disrupting preconceptions about art and daily life."
The work will be installed in Shanghai and Beijing in early September, before being auctioned in Hong Kong at the end of the month.