Shopopolis is part of the art genre of significant moments, the otherwise unconsidered palimpsest of the everyday. The London-based collective of artists and architects public works – and Khalid Mezaina and Karima al Shomely researched how shopping centres – from Arab souks to British street markets, from Dubai Mall to Westfield London Shopping Centre – serve as alternative communal spaces and critical points of exchange. |n June 2011, the artists talked to shoppers and retailers at Westfield London, in public works’ Mobile Porch, collecting personal stories that document new views and invisible connections within the shopping centre that might inspire a new ‘product’ for a display window at Westfield London from 17 to 23 July. Yemisi Blake was commissioned to respond to Shopopolis by re-imagining all of the narratives gathered at Westfield London into a collective story. The narratives collected are re-imagined as unusual, yet practical ‘products’ for a collective feast: tables, chairs, cutlery, glasses… With food from some of Westfield London’s restaurants, the feast was produced as a private dinner for participants.
Shopopolis is an initiative by the Delfina Foundation that explores the notion of shopping centres as social spaces through reciprocal residencies and workshops in the UAE and the UK. Shopopolis is part of Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, 4 – 24 July, a series of events that focussed on the architecture of the Middle East and North Africa, presented by the Mayor of London. Shubbak was London’s first ever celebration of contemporary culture from across the Arab world, featuring more than 70 events, talks and lectures in over 30 cultural venues across the capital, covering visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature and architecture. Shubbak was organised by Nous Collaborative a London-based architecture gallery, consultancy and collaborative.
Shopopolis is produced by the Delfina Foundation’s artist-in-residence programme in partnership with the Emirates Foundation, Westfield London, British Council, and Tashkeel.