Packard Jenning ‘s Il Duce Action Figure involves both the insertion of a hand-made Benito Mussolini doll into Wal-Mart and documentation of the ensuing comical conundrums (video of confused workers assigning a value to the item, manual entry of ‘Mussolini’ onto the receipt, etc.).
Il Duce Action Figure is part of Shopdropping: Experiments in the Aisle which instigates the insertion of art into conglomerate retail stores. The exhibition runs march 11 05 – april 10 05 at the Pond gallery in San Francisco.
Another artist featured in the exhibtion is Conrad Bakker who, in his Untitled Projects series (Consumer Actions, Untitled Products, etc.), highlights the role of labor involved in commodity production and consumption.
In Mail Order Catalog, he painted and carved wooden objects to resemble functioning technology (radar detectors, binoculars, lighters, flashlights). The items bear traces of their production: visible chisel marks, brush strokes from the oil paint, and imperfections. Bakker marketed them through a catalogue at prices comparable to the products they resemble. Shoppers calling the catalogue’s number found themselves in intimate conversation with the artist, who took orders, shipped items, and produced more on demand, a process which often took considerable time. By emphasizing the relationships built between shopper and artist, Bakker presents an alternate economic model—a hybrid between a gift economy and commodity-based culture.