FREE SHOP ANYTHING THE CUSTOMER WANTS TO PURCHASE IS FREE
FREE SHOP ANYTHING THE CUSTOMER WANTS TO PURCHASE IS FREE
FREE SHOP ANYTHING THE CUSTOMER WANTS TO PURCHASE IS FREE
SUPERFLEX/ FREE SHOP Free Shop Free Shop will take place in an ordinary commercial shop. Any goods or services purchased in the shop by any given customer when Free Shop is performed are free of charge irrespective of the normal sales price of such goods or services. There must be no sign or other means of information communicating that, or at which times, the goods or services in the shop are free of charge. Nor must the concept of Free Shop or the name SUPERFLEX be mentioned during the event. Accordingly, a customer in Free Shop must not realize that goods and/or services are free of cost before the sales assistant makes out the bill stating the total amount to be zero. There must be no information on display as to who is covering the expenses for Free Shop (including information on other relevant partners or sponsors). The shop must be economically independent of the person or institution that carries out Free Shop. There must be no legal or beneficial interest. Performance of Free Shop The limits of Free Shop may designate a maximum total amount of the value of goods and services which may be used when Free Shop is performed, it may also stipulate the period of time in which Free Shop is to be performed. Information about the maximum total amount or the limited time period must not be displayed in any way to the customers in Free Shop. Documentation of Free Shop The documentation of the Free Shop will, as discretely as reasonably possible, be documented in photographic images. Documentation of Free Shop must not be undertaken for more than 10% of the time in which Free Shop is performed.
SUPERFLEX / FREE SHOP
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HAUGESUND 2008 Amundsen KOLONIAL Type: Grocery Location: Haraldsgata 124 NO-5527 Haugesund
Apotek 1 Løven Type: Pharmacy Location: Haraldsgata 90 NO-5528 Haugesund
Mega Pizza Away Type: Fast food restaurant Location: Haraldsgata 168 NO-5525 Haugesund
REIDAR Langåker Type: Organic produce stand, farmers' market Location: Lørdagstorget, Rådhusplassen NO-5528 Haugesund
NILLE Type: Hardware store Location: Haraldsgata 94 NO-5528 Haugesund
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HAUGESUND, NORWAY 2008
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HAUGESUND 2008 / APOTEK 1 LØVEN
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HAUGESUND, NORWAY 2008
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HAUGESUND 2008 / MEGA PIZZA AWAY
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FREE SHOP ANYTHING THE CUSTOMER WILL PURCHASE IS FREE
HAUGESUND 2008 / NILLE
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KØBENHAVN 2006 Steno Apotek Type: Pharmacy Location: Vesterbrogade 6 C DK-1620 København V
KØBENHAVN 2006 / STENO APOTEK
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CIESZYN/ Feský TEšín 2004 Społem Sklep nr 51 Type: Location:
Supermarket Gł boka 1 PL-43-400 Cieszyn
PSS Społem nr 34 Type: Delicatessen Location: Ul. Regera 3 PL-43-400 Cieszyn
ICE CREAM Café Type: Location:
Café Odboje trída 7 CZ-73701 Aeský Tešín
LiqUOr Store Type: Location:
Liquor store Hlavni trída 4 CZ-73701 Aeský Tešín
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CIESZYN 2004 / SPOﾅ・M SKLEP nr 51
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Jeský TKšín / ICE CREAM CAFÉ
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TOKYO 2003 Family Mart Type: Location:
Convenience store Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku JP-106-6150 Tokyo
MAMEDA Type: Location:
Fast food restaurant Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku JP-106-6150 Tokyo
am/pm Type: Location:
Convenience store Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku JP-106-6150 Tokyo
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TOKYO 2003 / FAMILY MART
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TOKYO 2003 / FAMILY MART
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TOKYO 2003 / MAMEDA
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TOKYO 2003 / AM/PM
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BREMEN 2003 Nussbaum ROHMILCHKÄSE Type: Organic cheese stand Location: Findorff-Market Eickedorfer Straße DE-28215 Bremen
Dolce Vita Feinkost Type: Location:
Delicatessen Pappelstraße 73 DE-28199 Bremen
Selin Feinkost Izmir Type: Location:
Greengrocer Am Dobben 110 DE-28203 Bremen
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BREMEN 2003| 67
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BREMEN 2003 / DOLCE VITA FEINKOST
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BREMEN 2003 / SELIN FEINKOST IZMIR
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INTERVIEWS Amundsen Kolonial, HAUGESUND Egil Amundsen, shop owner How was the Free Shop to you? Egil Amundsen It was fun! I found it very interesting to observe people and their reactions. By doing that I felt I cold see more of the human behind the customer, if you know what I mean. I found it particularly interesting to talk to the regulars in another way than we are used to. What were the customersâ€™ reactions? EA Some were shocked, some surprised. And they were all thankful. Some asked if they could take more. And what did you tell them? EA I told them that that was OK. Did they take more? EA Yes, some did, but in very modest quantity. Did you and your employees take some yourselves? EA Yes, in modest quantity, about 250 kroner for myself and I told the employees that they cold have for 400 kroner each. That was perhaps a little twisted? Why is that twisted? EA I mean, this was meant for our customers, but all things considered â€Ś I have to think about my employees as well. Did the project make you reconsider the pricing policy? EA Absolutely not. Were there any particular incidents as a reaction to the project? EA Yes, we had several interesting situations. We noticed a woman of foreign heritage, Middle-East I guess, looking at a big and expensive cheese. We could see that she was considering buying it, but was hesitating over the price. Finally, we could see that she decided not to buy it, she put it back and was about to leave, when we told her she could have it for free. So you told her? EA Absolutely yes. She nearly cried of happiness. I felt so good about it. We got a handcrafted gift from her a few days later. I still feel good about that. INTERVIEW
We also had another situation, a gentleman, also from the Middle East I guess. I thought he took too much, so I offered him half of it for free. He couldn’t afford that so he had to put most of it back. Why did you do that? EA We had a limited budget. If we allow one customer to take it all at once there would be nothing left for the other customers. Besides, I think it was a little greedy to be quite honest. Were there any negative reactions? EA None whatsoever, they were all positive. What about the guy that had to put most of it back? EA He too was happy for what he got. In retrospect, what are your thoughts on the project? EA It made this a very good month, businesswise. It was the best month of the year. Do you see any relevance of the Free Shop project to the financial crisis? EA No, I am not sure I can see that. Can you imagine an economic system where everything is free, always? EA No no, that would take all the fun out of running a business. Do you think we will ever have a different economic system than the market economy we have today? EA No, I think we have found the best system. In your opinion, what would be a good place to have a Free Shop event? EA A place with a lot of people.
APOTEK 1 LØVEN, HAUGESUND Linda Johansen, employee Marit Aase Larsen, employee Trond Maurseth, manager How was it? Linda Johansen I was shivering with excitement before we started. I was really looking forward to tell the customer that it was free, and to see their reactions. And what were the reactions? LJ My first customer was a young man about 20 years old. He just said ‘thank you’ and left, as if nothing particular had happened. I felt a bit disappointed about that. Marit Aase Larsen Another customer told me he knew about Free Shop, but still he did not take very much. Others were curious, asking why, but we told them nothing, of course. Did people take more than usual? LJ With few exemptions, no. Very few took more after they had learned that it was free. Those who
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did were very anxious to explain that they just forgot it the first time. They were all afraid to appear greedy. MAL One particular customer even insisted that I should see her shopping list, but I saw with my own eyes that she made it immediately before she came to the register. Did the relation between you and the customer change in any way? LJ No MAL Perhaps they were a little more polite. Were there any particular incidents related to the project? LJ We were wondering if everything was free for the employees as well. As we got no answer we assumed that it was OK. How much did you take? LJ I took for 1600, one of my colleagues took for 2000. MAL I took for 300 Then what? LJ We started worrying about our colleagues that were off duty. They did not get a chance to get any free goods, so we figured that they would perhaps be angryâ€Ś so we handed the problem over to the manager, who decided to make a lottery at our annual Christmas party. Trond Maurseth I felt that this was the only way to make things fair. Were there any negative reactions? MAL No, not negative, but some did not react at all. If any, what is the relevance of Free Shop to the financial crisis? TM People have less money, and getting something for free has greater value. Can you imagine an economic system where everything is free, always? All No, people would hoard. Do you think we will ever have a different economic system than the market economy we have today? All No. In your opinion, what would be a good place to have a Free Shop event? TM Somewhere where things are expensive, like a car dealer or jewelry store. People refrain from taking more because they do not want to appear greedy, but that would change if more money was at stake.
MEGA PIZZA AWAY, HAUGESUND Michel Yokhana Shamon, employee How did you experience Free Shop? Michel Yokhana Shamon It was something new and it was fun.
How did they customers react? MYS They had a shock and they were happy for the free food. How did you experience the project? MYS We were a bit insecure about it, something like this had never happened before. Did you experience a change in the relation between customer and employee? MYS Yes. Were there any negative reactions? MYS No, only positive reactions. Did you reflect on the project afterwards? MYS Yes. Do you yourself decide on the prices in the store? MYS No. Could you imagine the commodities in the shop to be free always? MYS Never! Do you think we could operate with an economic system other than the market economy as we know it today? MYS I’m not sure. Where would the best place to do a Free Shop? MYS I have no idea.
REIDAR LANGÅKER, HAUGESUND Reidar Langåker, organic farmer How was the Free Shop to you? Reidar Langåker It was interesting, it was touching to see that nobody tried to exploit it. Exploit it? RL Yes, by being greedy or coming back for more once they knew it was free. What were the customers’ reactions? RL They were very different. I noticed a difference between the men’s and women’s reactions. Some of the men were annoyed, but the women seemed to be very happy about it. Why is that, you think? RL I don’t know, but perhaps they thought it was a personal gesture from me. Like if I was coming on to them if you know what I mean… (smiling). The women might be more familiar with the situation of getting a gift from a man than the men.
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Did you take anything for yourself or tip anyone about the project? RL No, I’m not like that. Like that? RL I mean dishonest. Did the relation between you and the customers change in any way? RL I think it turned more positive, except for the men that were offended. Were there any particular incidents as a reaction to the project? RL Oh yes, several. One fellow, of Arab heritage I believe, wanted to buy fish. His Norwegian was poor, but I managed to convince him that it was for free. He kept asking me: ’fish bad?’, obviously thinking that he got it for free because it was spoiled. I tried to explain to him that the fish was good, and he investigated it, finding nothing wrong with it. I could see that he was unable to make any sense of it, other than that the fish had to be bad. In the end he took the fish and went away. My guess is that the cat got a fist class meal that evening (laughing). There were also the incidents with the offended men. One particular guy insisted that he should pay at least half of it, and he wouldn’t accept otherwise. There was also a lady who found some cabbage that was damaged by snails. That is not uncommon on ecologic products, you know. She started to bargain the price. The rules of the project are that I am not allowed to tell her that it’s free before she actually is about to pay, so I had to bargain with her as usual. We settled at half price. Then when she was about to pay I told here that it was free. That made her very unhappy, she obviously thought she had offended me and that I refused to accept payment. Can you imagine an economic system where everything is free, always? RL Absolutely not, how should that work? Do you think we will ever have a different economic system than the market economy we have today? RL There should be no VAT on food, and there should be food production in all countries! That’s important to the cultural landscape and to the cultural heritage. In your opinion, what would be a good place to have a Free Shop event? RL I don’t know. I was so proud and emotionally touched by the people who didn’t get greedy even if it was free. I would have been disappointed if it was not so. It depends what you are trying to demonstrate. Perhaps some place far away where people don’t have much money.
STENO APOTEK, KØBENHAVN Mia Luise Thomsen, pharmaconomist What was it like, the Free Shop project? Mia Luise Thomsen It was something quite different, but it was also great fun and a very positive experience. I had the evening shift – and it turned out to be an evening filled with fun and surprises! How did the customers react?
MLT Some were really surprised and one even asked, if it was because it was the end of the Ramadan... it was so funny, because she simply couldn’t understand it. There were also many who just gave me an odd look and said ‘I see’ and left, because they found it totally weird and thought we were kidding them. We also had one customer who left and then came back again to embark on a total shopping spree. So there was only one who took advantage of the situation? MLT Yes, but some spread the word to their colleagues at work, so people came in droves... Did anybody ask what it was all about? MLT Only very few. If people asked us why it was free, we just told them that we were doing a project, and then they actually didn’t pursue it any further. As employees, what was your experience of the project? MLT Well, at first, I must admit I was a little nervous about how to handle the practical side of it – how to tell it to the customers and what to do with the cash register. I guess that was my main concern, really. Did you feel any changes in the relation between customer and shop assistant? MLT Yes I did. You know, most people expect to be obliged to put down a substantial amount of money when they visit the pharmacy and, from what I can tell, the customers aren’t always exactly thrilled to have to go the pharmacy, because they feel they have to wait a long time and pay a lot of money and we can’t help but come across as slightly unaccommodating, since we have a pretty strict set of rules to follow. So, yeah, I would definitely say that there was a change there, because suddenly people saw us as real persons... When you gave away your products free of charge, did this make you reflect on the price policy within your branch of trade? MLT Well, you saw how much it meant to people to save that money. Fertility medications, for instance, are very expensive, and it was wonderful to be able to give something like that to people for free. And it did give me pause to think of the incredible amount of money that is spent on this sort of thing by society as such and by the individual consumers. I mean, diseases and ailments such as allergies, high cholesterol or diabetes, this is not something you choose to have – and yet you are forced to pay a lot of money for the proper medication. Did you experience any specific incidents in reaction to the project? MLT What I remember as the coolest kind of reaction, was when it just made people so happy and they said ‘Listen, I can’t thank you enough for this’ and told us how we had just saved their student economy for this month! Those were the reactions I remember most clearly and cherish the most. Were there any negative reactions? MLT Well, there were all those who thought that we were taking the piss and just left without saying thanks or anything. Also, a fair amount of people with mental disorders come here, and they sometimes don’t react very well to changes in the normal routine. So we actually experienced a very wide range of reactions to this project. Any subsequent thoughts on the project? MLT It was definitely loads of fun to take part in the project! It was something quite different from the usual humdrum. And it was nice to be able to make others happy.
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Społem Sklep nr 51, CIESZYN NN, shop assistant How’s the action going in your shop? NN Very well, we had some problems early on – when people rushed for the stuff at first, it was hard to handle, but now it’s rather quiet. What are the customers’ reactions? NN Well, some act quite funny. Ask us if we have had a sunstroke or something. But usually they’re pleasantly surprised. They’re happy to be leaving the shop with something they didn’t pay for. How was it with the first-day rush? NN We were very surprised, because it was mostly young people. They were taking everything, and when we told them it was finished, they dropped their baskets where they stood and left everything in a mess. We had to tidy the place up. Has there been any kind of a flow of information? Do people call each other or bring friends? NN Perhaps they call other people upon leaving the shop. If they meet someone, they say: ‘Go there, they give things away for free.’ Perhaps it’s like that, but I don’t really know. In general, we have had more and more young customers. Did the shop get more popular during the action? NN I guess so, allthough there are many young people in Cieszyn at this time anyway, so our turnover grows. What do people ask about? Do they try to find out what it’s all about? NN Yes, they’re curious. We tell them it’s a special offer related to a festival taking place in Cieszyn. Sometimes they ask who the sponsor is. We tell them we don’t know, a lady simply comes and brings money. And people can take stuff for free for that money. How about poor, homeless people. Do they come as well? NN No, they don’t come to us because we don’t sell the stuff they like, but we do get some very modest people and they’re happy about this special offer.
PSS Społem nr 34, CIESZYN NN, shop assistant How has the action been going on in your store? NN The action went really great on the first day. People were simply surprised, they kept asking questions. There were many shoppers from Germany. We explained to them what occasion it was. The second day was worse. People already knew what was going on and there were some disputes. What kind of disputes? NN One customer came, bought something, left, but came again, and this time didn’t buy the same thing as the first time but came to build up a stock. Because it’s free today! We had to admonish them because they weren’t supposed to know it was for free. But then the money ran out and the crowds ended. What were the stories about the wallets? NN On Monday morning, right after we’d opened, a customer came and ordered a salad and some sandwiches. When I gave her the receipt, she looked at the sum and says: ‘Oh my, I’ve forgotten my wallet.’ Another guy came for a cold Pepsi. He expected it to be free: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten my money.’ Have you noticed any flow of information? Do the customers tell each other about the special offer? NN Yes, and they’re sending their children. That’s sad for me, for if we have this nice action then it should be for everyone. And the funniest thing was that one day a man came and, allthough he knew about the special offer, he paid for everything he bought, said thank you, and left.
ICE CREAM CAFÉ, AESKÝ THŠÍN NN, shop assistant How’s the action going in your café? NN Everything’s going well. Everybody’s happy. Our regular customers come and take advantage of the special offer. And no one buys more than usual? NN No, I haven’t seen people take more because it’s free. And what are the people’s reactions? NN They’re quite puzzled. They ask whether everything is OK with me and if I’m nuts! Have you noticed any flow of information? Do people call each other or bring friends? NN No, I haven’t noticed anything like that. Do you feel you’ve had more business than usual?
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NN Well, yes, it’s busier. What kind of questions do people ask when they learn about the special offer? NN Who’s the sponsor, what kind of an even it is, how long will it last, are drinks included, and other questions like that. Do low-income customers come here more often now? NN No, it’s mostly the regulars.
LIQUOR STORE, AESKÝ THŠÍN NN, shop assistant How did the action go in your store? NN Well, differently. Some would take the stuff and leave, others wanted to pay. Were they surprised? NN Some very much so, they couldn’t believe it. Were there situations with people taking more than usual upon learning that it was for free, or returning for more? NN Some returned, but then I wouldn’t give them anything for free. Did people ask you what kind of an action it was? What did you tell them? NN Yes, some asked. I told them it was a kind of art project and that it had to do with the festival.
Family Mart, Tokyo Kota Hirono, store manager Shiho Ujiie, part-time worker Yui Nakazawa, part-time worker Ichiro Miida, supervisor of Tokyo First District, Meguro Area What do you think about the Free Shop? Kota Hirono I felt I was lucky. This is the sort of thing a store manager will usually never do in his entire life. Sometimes we do unusual services such as a thirty-yen discount service at shop opening. But this kind of thing would never happen in any convenience store in Japan. Shiho Ujiie I was surprised. Yui Nakazawa I doubted it was true. Ichiro Miida I was at a loss for words. To be honest, I thought it wasn’t art. I thought that it would definitely cause problems. But it turned out for the best – and made the customers happy.
What happened during the Free Shop? KH It was really a wonderful experience. Within just ten seconds people showed all sorts of emotions such as surprise, joy, suspiciousness and nervousness. All at the same time. Moreover, I realized that human beings are good by nature. The customers looked like children. I expected a sort of panic. That people would take away all the items from the shelves. Actually, we had several company employees on standby in the back of the shop – just in case some sort of a riot happened. SU Women were just surprised and said ‘Oh, really? Why?’ The men looked more angry as if they were thinking ‘What? You are kidding. Anyway I am in a hurry.’ YN It’s been a long while since I have enjoyed working at the register. It was a very fresh experience. I enjoyed watching the customers’ faces. IM Compared with foreigners, Japanese customers had little reaction. I guess it depends on where this project is carried out. If we did this project in a residential zone of Setagaya-ku, neighbourhood housewives might queue up for the free items. Since it’s Roppongi Hills most of the customers are office employees who work here. I guess they might be too embarrassed to do that sort of thing in front of the other workers. Did anything specific happen during the Free Shop that you found interesting? KH I found that it wasn’t people’s facial expressions, but their actions that changed when confronted with this unusual situation. They stopped at the register for longer. You see that various emotions came to their mind, and then they went silent. SU Usually there is no conversation between the customers and us. But in this project, I talked with the customers and smiled naturally. The customers’ surprised look was very interesting. YN Communicating with customers was interesting. IM I only stood behind a cash register once during this project. It was difficult for me to respond to customers when they asked ‘Is it really free?’ There was one customer who came to the register once again to check if it really was free. I expected that he would take expensive items. But he only took three instant noodles and one chocolate. What was for you the most interesting? SU The reaction of foreigners who came at the second day was very interesting. YN Mostly, people went silent when they were surprised. IM The lack of expression on Japanese people’s faces. If you were a customer, how do you think you would react to this? IM If I had known about this project, I would have taken expensive things. If not, I would have had little reaction and would probably just say ‘Oh, really?’ Did you enjoy the Free Shop? KH It gave me goose bumps. For the first time in a long while, I felt freshness and was impressed. Mr. Miida stood behind the register for the first time in years and was very excited. Before this, I had always felt that Mori Art Museum was posh and stuck-up. But after experiencing this project, I feel a lot closer to the museum. SU Yes, I enjoyed it. YN It was great fun. IM I enjoyed this project very much. Furthermore, my photo is showed in the gallery of the art museum and that is a very rare experience.
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Mameda, Tokyo Minoru Ebisu, manager of Tokyo Sales Department Katsuhi Aiga, shop assistant When were you informed about the Free Shop? Katsuhi Aiga In the morning on the day. I thought it was a rare and strange experience. What do you think about the Free Shop? Minoru Ebisu I felt that it was like a TV comedy and an interesting project. But I wondered if it was really art. I know that sometimes just a tin can or a plastic bottle can be an art piece. I think that this wide range of art is interesting. What happened during the Free Shop? KA The customers were confused rather than surprised. Did anything specific take place during the Free Shop that you found interesting? KA There was an incidence with two customers standing at the register and where the second customer tried to pay even after seeing the first customer getting the items for free. Only few customers asked for the reason. Most of them seemed to accept the situation and looked happy when they read the Free Shop paper. Only one called to ask about the reason after the project. ME In general, men had less reaction than young people or women did. What was for you the most interesting part? KA Often, when the customers heard that it was free they had no reaction. Perhaps because they didn’t expect it. They looked as if they hadn’t heard me. But after telling them that it was free about three times, they were surprised. ME The project itself is interesting. I wonder how people would react if this project were to be carried out in a fashion house? It’s interesting because it’s about people’s greed. Did you enjoy the Free Shop? KA Yes! ME I enjoyed this project very much.
am/pm, Tokyo Yuko Endo, store manager Manabu Noma, employee What do you think about the Free Shop? Yuko Endo First, I thought that art comes in various forms but that I couldn’t understand it. Manabu Noma I wished I could have been a customer. I wanted to be in the shop as a customer, not a shop worker. I thought it was interesting, but I was wondering if people would realize it. When were you informed about the Free Shop? MN When I came to the shop on the day of the project. It was about thirty minutes before the Free
Shop were to begin. Actually a week ago, the shop manager told me that something would happen but she couldn’t tell us what it was. What happened during the Free Shop? YE Nothing really happened. Often, people went silent for a moment. But nothing unexpected happened. However, I had a very good time with a constant smile on my face. I enjoyed this project very much. MN People showed little reaction, much less than I had expected. It was as if they just thought ‘Oh, really?’. If I had been a customer, I would have gotten more excited. Did anything specific take place during the Free Shop that you found interesting? YE The surprising fact was that nothing really happened except in the case where one customer came to the shop twice after realizing the project. I was surprised that nothing bad or the sort of panic I had expected never happened. In this sense, I was disappointed. I wonder if this has to do with the kind of people working in this area… People who work in Roppongi Hills are kind of special. Or perhaps, this is just how modern people are? Maybe if they had experienced this with somebody they knew, they might have shown their reaction more? MN Normally I don’t see the customers’ feelings that well. In this project, I saw customers’ reactions very clearly. It was like playing a prank. What was for you the most interesting part? YE It was very funny that so many staff members stood behind the register counter to be ready for this project, even though the shop was never crowded. Actually, the situation on our part was funniest. MN It was that I could say ‘It’s free.’ Normally I never say that. Did you enjoy the Free Shop? YE Yes. It was very interesting. Initially I felt that this would be a happy thing for customers but not for us. We could see very unusual reactions from the customers, and this was a great and very rare experience. MN I really enjoyed the unusual situation. I enjoyed seeing the customers’ reaction. It was like a kind of game or like candid camera.
Nussbaum ROHMILCHKÄSE, BREMEN Michael Nussbaum, shop owner Halina Strzedzinka, shop owner So, what were people’s reactions? Halina Strzedzinka Most of them were pretty cool about it: ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ As if we were just pulling their legs. And when we insisted, they just stood there and shook their heads. And then they either tried to physically force us to take the money, or they stood their confused and asked if it was our birthday, or anniversary, or if we had won the lottery. There were a couple of women who later bought some cheese – just a couple pieces, and insisted on paying. They accepted the gift the first time, but then they said: ‘OK, then I’ll buy some cheese, but I would like to pay for that.’ A few customers reacted like that – by then trying to buy some more. And when I once again produced the receipt for zero Euros, they almost fell apart. They really didn’t know how to react anymore! What
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was interesting was that more and more people were standing in line, and that eventually someone was going to catch on before placing their order – but apparently, it was so completely beyond their comprehension of how things function at the market, that they really didn’t figure out what was going on. And when it was their turn – they too would be completely surprised. Rarely did someone catch on while standing in line. Michael Nussbaum I think that people didn’t make the connection from what they saw to what was about to happen to them. The situation was something that they noticed, but I don’t think they expected the same situation to happen again. They probably thought: ‘Well, he was lucky’ or something. That’s what made the whole situation so absurd – that they were really just shopping, it was otherwise just a normal day at the market. There were rarely situations when people came back again for more – or asked for a larger portion. We had fairly normal sales today… or rather I acted just like normal and there were the situations that arise like they always do – you show someone a piece of cheese, and with your hand gauge for ‘a little more’ or ‘a little less’ in front of the customer. They then might reply with, ‘a little less’. Although at that moment I was thinking: ‘Come on, they must have caught on by now. Who cares if I cut a little bit more or less, but that mentality is so engrained. They say that very same sentence their whole lives. That is how they shop but then something flips everything – and it’s hard to accept, in fact they probably would rather not accept it. That’s how it works – that’s how they work. When they come to the market each week, that is what they expect. HS And then there were a couple of women who did catch on before they placed their order, but still bought very little: ‘We can’t do that. We couldn’t possibly do that to you. What are you doing?’ They made a very small purchase so as not to harm our business. MN Yeah, that was how it was in the beginning. At first I was somehow a little nervous, thinking we would sell less. Mostly because people were so disturbed that they didn’t know how to deal. When they figured out what was going on, they couldn’t concentrate on what they were actually there to buy in the first place. Probably the same thing was going on in all of their heads, that: ‘Well, then I’ll have some more…. No, that’s not right!’ And they went back and forth and suddenly weren’t able to concentrate on cheese anymore. I totally understand where they were coming from. You go into a store and suddenly you can take everything for free. When it takes you by surprise, you’re not able to cope. Yes, it’s a bit of a fantasy. We also thought about this in the early stages of this project: What will happen? What should we think about ahead of time? These are common fantasies for everyone. What if people came and just took everything once they found out it was all for free – to test the limit. It didn’t happen at all. How can you explain the fact that people acted with such restraint? What caused that? HS I think it has something to do with the fact that it is a completely different audience. It’s not the audience that is looking for handouts or give-aways. Our audience has a more goal-orientated way of shopping – they know what they want, and they come to get it. They aren’t looking for the special deals. I think if you had chosen a different vendor, the Holland Cheese vendor, for example, then it would have gone a little differently. Just different types of people, I guess. There were two women who came three times. They had never shopped with us before, and somehow they figured out what was going on. They came once, and tested it out, came again, and then again… MN In our business, we spend a lot of time talking about cheese. They decide what cheese they want and then we talk about how much they want. It usually takes a while until we get to the point of exchanging money. That is of course an important part. It’s important for us, and it is important for the
customer how much they are paying. I often get the phrase: ‘And now you get some money from me.’ And I usually say: ‘Your right, to close the deal.’ It’s practically just stating the facts, I guess. People acted like they always do. Those who are always frugal with their purchases were frugal with their purchases today. Those who are always generous buy generous portions. HS We thought that people would buy the cheeses that they’ve never tried before. Like Roquefort or Swiss for the example – the expensive cheeses. But that didn’t really happen. People just bought the same cheese that they always do. We already tried this sort of experiment with Volker Kunze from Dolce Vita in the Pappelstrasse and he had a similar experience with customers restraining themselves. I’m starting to believe that it has something to do with the sales situation and the fact that you’re not really anonymous in these scenarios. Maybe it would be different in a larger supermarket. There are different people who go there, but maybe it would be easier to fill a shopping cart and proceed to the register. HS If you don’t look, when no one is watching one doesn’t feel so on edge. But when you have direct contact between the customer and seller, it's different. The customer feels a social responsibility for the seller. This is something that is normally not so visible. When they say, ‘Excuse me, what? It can’t be free. What’s wrong with you? Am I supposed to ruin you?’ There is something like that going on here. Some sort of social element is at play. HS Yes, exactly. You definitely have a point there. But I also think it’s about standing and looking the seller in the eye. Very different in a supermarket – where you don’t see anyone – and you are just pushing the shopping cart around – without thinking twice about filling it up. Did you explain to your more irate customers what was going on? MN Well, I have to say, that was really difficult sometimes. I would have been very happy to have had a clear direction about what to do in those situations. Sometimes I didn’t say a thing, sometimes I simply said, ‘That has already been paid for.’ Of course the goal was to cultivate a kind of confusion. The only thing was, we were the ones standing there, causing all this confusion. People even asked us: ‘Are you ever going to come back?’ or ‘Is this some sort of sales promotion?’ HS Or: ‘Are you having a clearance sale?’ MN Or: ‘Thank you’. I thought that also didn’t really seem right – that people were thanking us. That is why I started saying, ‘That has already been paid for’, or something like that. It always depended on the situation. Once I said, ‘Everyone has his necessities’, a rather anarchistic phrase I guess. And the woman looked at me and said: ‘Do I look that needy?’ And I said ‘No, necessity, not needs, but necessities.’ In this project there is what you might call a turning point that lies with the vendors. The vendors, or sales-people, sort of determine what happens. There is a pivotal moment that happens between the sellers and buyers alone. Do you think the customers could sense that their reactions were actually what it was about? About dissecting this pivotal exchange between vendor and customer? MN Well, I didn’t really have the impression that there was a lot of that happening. There were a few who left saying: ‘I’m going to have to think about what just happened here…’ Or there was an old lady: ‘See, something wonderful happened to me today.’ I think that people were left wondering. HS It was also interesting to see the way people acted like they had all the time in the world. Usually
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people are always in a hurry and are quickly annoyed when things take too long, but today, they didn’t seem to want to leave. People just kept standing there, even after we were finished, and I had moved on to the next customer – but they just stood there, and couldn’t believe what had just happened. And even when I took a few minutes off and came out from behind the counter, I was approached by all sorts of people who again asked: ‘What is going on today?’ That was interesting, the way they just didn’t want to leave. They were all standing nearby thinking about it. Is there anything about what happened today that might be interesting for you – or that might change the way you generally look at things in the future? MN There are customers, that you might expect to completely flip out. Right? And that wasn’t like that today… no negative conclusions were made today. That is something I will have to think about, I’m pleased with that. And the fact that money proved itself to not be so important in a situation like this. It’s just one element of the whole equation, almost secondary. So, yeah, I was pleased that it wasn’t so important. People are happy to spend their money. Yes, they are happy to spend it because it's part of this normal exchange. HS Yes. Strange that it didn’t even occur to them, somehow… donations. Saying: ‘Ok, you don’t want my money, but here’s a donation for whatever you’re up to.’ Not one person had an idea like that. They expressed their gratitude, were all completely confused, but they never went so far as to say: ‘Well, I have to do something.’ Not anyone. That surprised me. I thought that people would be concerned. Apparently they weren’t so shocked after all. Maybe some of them will get home and think: ‘Shit, I should have given them something anyway.’ That a good deed deserves a good deed. Maybe on Thursday, people will come back, and say: ‘Now I want to know what that was about.’
Dolce Vita FEINKOST, Bremen Volker Kunze, shop owner What kind of money do you usually make in day? Volker Kunze Well, that depends, but usually somewhere between 60 and 500 Euros. It varies a lot during the week. The busiest days are usually Fridays. Otherwise, the other four days are basically unpredictable – they can be really great, average or really slow. Who knows? So with these 685 Euros, you did well above average. VK Yes, this is a very, very good Thursday for me. How did Free Shop develop over the course of the day? You started at 10:30. Did you take a lunch break? Explain a bit about the course of your day. VK Well, in terms of the development of the days, it was surprisingly unspectacular when I compare that to the way things usually turn out. In terms of the number of customers, there was a clear clustering towards the end of the day – pretty normal, I guess, and surprising there wasn’t much of a snowball effect where the news would get around through word of mouth … That actually didn’t happen at all. Therefore, I guess I would say that my experience was relatively consistent throughout, as was the intensity of the communication. Not only did we have a lot of fun in the beginning, but also towards the end. The novelty didn’t wear off. There wasn’t a second, where I thought, ‘So, when is this going to be over?’ Actually, for me, I can say that every aspect of the whole process was very,
very exciting. How did the customers react? VK Well, people were pretty amazed across the board. There were a few who came back to buy a second time. And of course there were most likely a few people who were prepared ahead of time – through gossip that took place in my absence. Many people reacted with thanks or said: ‘Wow, that’s unbelievable, what’s going on here? What is this about?’ And a lot of them couldn’t take the situation seriously. They thought I was making a joke or trying to fool them. So I repeated myself, twice, three times: ‘It’s really OK, it’s paid, you can take it and you can go home with it. This is really not a joke.’ As soon as I noticed that the customer was more than just amazed – but had big questioning eyes – I referred them to the concept, well, as much as I was able. I think they were so taken with this initial shock that they weren’t in a position or even willing to listen to a 10-minute speech – something that often happens in the store. There were a few that couldn’t deal with the situation. They obviously had problems taking gifts from me. I don't know whether they had problems with the situation itself or specifically because it was me, someone they know from behind the counter. This a small shop, and many people go out of their way to shop here in order to support my small business. And that is clearly the absurd part – to then get something for free in that very shop you are trying to support. But I have to say that most of them were into the idea, with only a few exceptions. A few said: ‘Hey, that’s great, super – but we would rather not take this as a gift. We would rather spend our money here – as a donation for the cause, at least.’ Saying something like that seemed to give them pleasure – or at least that’s how it appeared to me. I think it’s fascinating to experience how they were so excited about receiving a gift that they decided to give a gift as well. They transformed the gift really wonderfully. There was a customer who had real difficulties – she actually just bought two drinks from me over the course of the day (for free, of course) – and then in the evening she bought a bottle of wine, or something like that. She is a regular customer, and she comes in every day and buys a lot from me. And then, on her last visit that day, she said, ‘No, ok, enough – I can’t do that anymore. I want to pay this time.’ She really insisted. And I said: ‘I’m sorry, I can’t. My register isn’t able to do that today.’ So I played with her a bit, and flat out refused. I should say, I also know her really well, actually. But she was really bothered by the whole situation as she said: ‘So, Volker, thanks a lot, I will take this, but I will also come tomorrow and we’ll talk about it: I want to pay for this.’ I simply replied: ‘Ok, then we’ll talk about it again tomorrow.’ She was really the only one who fought it. She would have felt better if I had just let her pay. I made her life a little difficult, I guess, but I think that that is what the whole thing is about – to see how different kinds of people react differently. Did the customers notice that the whole project was actually about their reactions? That they were actually the subject of this entire happening? Did you get the impression that they were aware of this? VK Well, luckily, I don’t think they were. Then again, it’s difficult to say, the customers didn’t express their feelings or their thoughts about it really. I think if they had realized that they were unwittingly taking part in some sort of game – which is exactly what this is, I guess – or if they had realized it was their reaction that we were after, they would have been a little insulted or upset – or even angry, or worse. That didn’t really happen, and I think that the whole thing just took them by surprise more than anything. In that moment, they weren’t really sure what to think. Later, I heard about conversations that customers had had with each other, and I also spoke with some of them who said things like: ‘Well if I had known what was going on, I would have had a little more fun with the whole situation and reacted a little differently.’ So, after the fact, you did speak with people about that day again? VK That was interesting, actually – the way people were sitting outside drinking coffee until closing, enjoying themselves so much that they didn’t want to leave. They all just stayed. And they also man-
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aged to involve me in the end. I also sat down and we all stayed until the late hours of the evening – having a grand old time. Everyone was talking about a lot of things, but the topic of the evening was certainly the strange events of the day – it caused quite a stir. The fact that many of these customers come in every day – or two or three times a week, at least – and then suddenly there is something strange going on. All of a sudden, they are sharing their ‘living room’ with an invisible institution – with invisible artists who turned my business and me into a kind of instrument. I was just the vehicle for something else entirely. Are there elements within the idea of the Free Shop that are inspiring for you, for your business, for your relationship to your customers or for your plans in the future? VK Yes, definitely. In fact, one realization hit me like a ton of bricks: buyer behaviour. Something that, if I’m honest, I would like to see become a bit more extravagant in my shop. In these difficult economic times, the customers are much more modest and cautious. Many of these people buy one piece or maybe two, compared to at larger supermarkets, where their shopping carts are all full. For me, that’s… well, this process really just isolated the behaviour of my customers for me again. Intensified, of course – sales were good, so it did make a difference. But for the most part, no one really went for it and shamelessly helped him or herself. And that is really representative of normal shopping behaviours for most of my customers. I guess, in the end, that realization saddened me a bit. So I guess I realized that it’s really too bad that people are so discrete and modest and not a bit more self-indulgent in the end. That’s one thing, and the second is that I found the whole thing personally very interesting: I realized I was quite cheeky – cheekier as a salesman. I was more brazen with my solicitation – the way I approached the customers. Usually, I’m normally not such a good salesman. I can be quite shy and don’t want to give the customer the idea that … well, that I want them to empty their wallets – but I’d rather that they feel comfortable. Of course they should buy things, but more importantly, they should leave feeling good. On that day, I realized that I was a bit more forward. A situation that exemplifies this for me was this: Normally I would look at stuff on the counter and I would ring it up. When the customer looks at me expectantly, I know: that’s it – I tell them the total and hand them the receipt. But on that particular day, I asked the customer again: ‘Is that it?’ because I wanted to see their reaction. I wanted to enjoy that moment, just before I knew that look of surprise was going to cross their face! I mean… I’m standing behind the counter – and between the customer and me are all the goods I just rang up in the register. I know what’s about to happen, but the customer doesn’t have a clue. That moment of expectation was priceless. And then, to just give them the receipt and say: ‘That’ll be zero Euros’… I found that to be extremely interesting – that I somehow became more self-assured in approaching and speaking with the customers. That aspect was really fascinating.
SELIN IZMIR FEINKOST, BREMEN Cemal von Selin, shop owner How was it then? What did you say to the visitors? What were some common questions? Cemal von Selin Most of them were shocked at first: ‘What? Free? Why?’ And you told me I wasn’t allowed to say, why ... and so on. I had the brochure with the concept, which I then gave to them to read. I’m not supposed to say anymore than that, am I?
You seemed to have removed yourself very well from the whole affair. You were able to give really short answers, ‘That’s how it is today’ and so on ... CvS If I had told my customers one or two days in advance, they would have been waiting outside the door before 8 in the morning. I didn’t even tell my colleagues (laughs). They weren’t supposed to know, it’s a secret – a surprise. It has to be a project. If they knew ahead of time, then their reactions would be different, you know? Did the customers ask about it? CvS Yes, on the next day – probably over 20 customers asked: ‘Is everything free again today?’ Today I was saying: ‘The event is over, today nothing is for free. You’ll have to pay.’ Can you talk a little bit about how the day was for you? It was very quiet at first and then picked up during the course of the day… CvS The day was really exhausting. Until the middle of the day, it was very quiet and not very hectic at all. But everyone was talking about it all over town – and then they all started coming. So around 2 o’clock it really started to be different. Then the bike messengers started to show up… CvS Yeah, normally they come around 11 o’clock to take some of the stuffed dumplings for lunch. On this particular day, they all came around 2 pm. They must have heard late, otherwise they would have been here earlier. Yeah, they didn’t buy a lot, they took a few packs of cigarettes, or a cola, or what? CvS It seems they weren’t really sure what was going on. Once they finally realized what was going on, it was too late, you know. They all came back around 6 – they usually come back around 6 or 7 to buy a beer or something: ‘Are things still for free?’ – ‘Nope, too late’, I said. There were also people there, who were really excited! I saw a woman here in the morning. I think she might have been Turkish? A small woman, who was really ecstatic and was laughing… CvS Oh yeah, of course, the large purchase. She comes in almost every week, Thursdays or Fridays and stocks up for the weekend. At first she got all red in the face, right? ‘What’s going on here?’ She was shocked and speechless. I think she was really happy because I think she has two or three kids. Exactly, things were really hopping. Tell me a little bit about what you witnessed over the day. CvS Some people came a second time, but even then they didn’t take a lot of expensive things – not really sure why. If I were to have come a second time, I would have taken cigarettes or wine or other good things. But even on the second visit – they just took small things. Some took just what they really needed. They didn’t seem to just think: ‘Well, if it’s free, I’ll take a lot.’ And then of course, there were those people saying: ‘Well, if it’s free, I’ll take everything!’ There were some people there who bought some sausages. CvS Yeah, we know them from somewhere; her husband came in the morning, the one with the construction site. He first just bought a water, and then they came back to buy bread and sausage for breakfast, small things – all for free. And then in an hour, maybe two, she came back with her kid. Strange, because these people don’t usually shop with us, you know? They usually shop at the larger Turkish shops, where things are a little cheaper. But on that particular day, I noticed them and therefore asked myself, ‘Who is this woman?’ Because she spoke Yugoslavian. And I understand Yugoslavian, you know. And I thought: „OK, this is the wife and child from the man who came earlier.’ She bought two packages of sausage and that sort of thing... without even thinking twice, you know,
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she must have been tipped off. Yeah, when they know, then they are very confident. Otherwise, they would normally ask about the price. And then completely random people started showing up because their colleagues had been in earlier, from the other shop. There was a customer who came in, I think, who also goes shopping over there. And he must have told him what happened. I guess it’s cheating, you know. So he came over and asked: ‘So what’s up, what’s the problem?’ I said something like: ‘I don’t have a problem. Everything is completely normal.’ ‘Then why are you giving things away for free?’ And then I just said: ‘Special.’ He even sent his wife over later – and what a woman she was. As she came up to the register to check out, she asked – without even getting out here wallet – ‘Everything’s free, huh?’ ‘Yes, it is’, I said. She buyed for nearly 60 Euros worth. And then it just got busier and more confusing. How many people were in here as we announced that the whole thing was over? CvS More than 20, I think. There were at least 12 or 13 lined up to the door, and over on the side even more. They left 14 full baskets – they were really full – everything they could carry. Within a minute, everyone put down their basket and left. Suddenly everyone was gone. I knew everyone would leave their baskets, and I started to collect them, not that someone would try to walk out with their coffee or something… it could happen, you know. Did someone try it? At that moment, nobody wanted to pay anymore? I mean, how did all those people catch on so quickly? CvS Because I said: ‘OK, it’s over. Now with money.’ Everyone heard that. One, maybe two, wanted to pay. And then it was over. That means, that over 20 people knew that everything was for free. They came here to shop for free. So the news did get around. CvS Exactly. It was … (laughs) like a bomb scare. People kept coming and poked their heads in, asking if everything was still free. I just said, ‘No, it’s over.’ ‘Oh, what a shame’ they said, and left again – without buying a thing. Do you think this event will somehow give you a new perspective on your work? Is there something that sticks out as something that you have gained knowledge from or gives you reason to ponder? I’m not saying that you could always give things away for free, but… CvS No, no, this event certainly provided some level of advertising for me, I would say. Before there were only older customers who I haven’t seen in long time. And in the last few days, I’m seeing them again. For smaller businesses like this one, this event is like a small advertisement for free. Anyway, it’s a hard time for small businesses right now, economic difficulties. And things like this can bring a little energy into the shop. Not a lot, but a little…
Published by: Pork Salad Press Vester Farimagsgade 6, 5. DK-1606 Copenhagen www.porksaladpress.org
Superflex Bl책g책rdsgade 11b DK-2200 Copenhagen www.superflex.net
In collaboration with:
Dynamo Haugesund 2008, Haugesund Gesellschaft f체r Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen
Editors: Design: Printing and binding: Typeface:
Pernille Albrethsen, Jacob Fabricius Copenhagen Brains, Superflex Narayana Press Akzidenz-Grotesk
ISBN 978-87-91409-41-7 No copyright. No license. 2009. All forms of copying and reproduction is encouraged. A free digital version of this book is available at: www.superflex.net/freeshop
HAUGESUND 2008 Context: Curators: Photo: Interview:
Dynamo Haugesund 2008, Haugesund Kommune Åshild Grana, Bernhard Østebø Edgar G. Bachel, Superflex Torleif Lothe, Sylvain Berland
KØBENHAVN 2006 Context: 700% PLUS KBH Kunsthal Centenniale, Kbh Kunsthal Curators: Jesper Dyrehauge, Jacob Fabricius, Anders Gaardbo Jensen, Lotte Juul Petersen Photo: Bothild Una Jensen, Jacob Fabricius Interview: Maria Kjær Themsen CIESZYN/FESKÝ TEŠÍN 2004 Context: The Parallel Action, Foksal Gallery Foundation in collaboration with the 4th Film Festival Era New Horizons, Gutek Film Curators: Sebastian Cichocki, Joanna Mytkowska, Andrzej Przywara Photo: Foksal Gallery Foundation, Superflex Interview: Katarzyna Szydłowska TOKYO 2003 Context: Happiness, Mori Art Museum Curators: David Elliott, Fumio Nanjo, Pier Luigi Tazzi Photo: Keizo Kioku, Superflex Interview: Asako Ogita. BREMEN 2003 Context: Niemand ist ein Insel, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Curators: Horst Griese, Eva Schmidt Photo: Horst Griese, Frank Push, Superflex Interview: Horst Griese
Superflex would like to thank all the participating shop owners, employees, customers, curators, assistants, photographers and interviewers.
HAUGESUND KØBENHAVN CIESZYN/ Feský TEšín TOKYO BREMEN
PORK SALAD PRESS. SUPERFLEX. NO COPYRIGHT. NO LICENSE. 2009