Experience The Plastic Bag Store at Blue Genie Art Bazaar This April
Artist Robin Frohart explains the immersive event that combines puppetry and art to critique the effects of single-use plastics
By Avery Tanner
The Plastic Bag Store will be open at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar from April 2 through April 17, bringing a critical, yet humorous lens to the enduring effects of single-use plastics through a creative art event.
The art installation and immersive film experience comes from the mind of Brooklyn-based artist and director Robin Frohardt, who came up with the original idea nearly 10 years ago as she watched a grocery store employee double bag her groceries — which were already inside of boxes and other bags.
“I was just so struck by the humorous amount of packaging that was being used,” says Frohardt. “It was so ridiculous that I thought I could make it even more ridiculous.”
At first glance, the exhibit appears similar to your local H-E-B, but take a second look and you’ll notice that every item inside was created from a plastic bag.
Frohardt teamed up with composer and long-time collaborator Freddi Price, along with her puppetry team, to create the experience for guests. The exhibit first opened in New York City in 2020, followed by stops in Chicago, Australia and Los Angeles.
A combination of an art gallery and a film, the experience is difficult for even Frohardt to explain to art lovers, but the Plastic Bag Store is certainly worth the visit.
“The experience is unique in its form, and it’s hard to explain,” says Frohardt. “The hybrid installation and film thing is hard to explain, but once you get there, you get it.”
Guests can expect to laugh, think and leave with a new perspective on the negative effects of single-use plastics. During each performance, artists transform the store into a small theater to tell the narrative of The Plastic Bag Store in a 45-minute film.
“The story is funny, but it’s also pretty deep, and I think that people experience a gamut of emotions,” says Frohardt.”I definitely am not trying to be overly didactic or bum people out. I’m just trying to engage people on a different level and help people to have a deeper understanding.”
Items in the installation include meat, produce, magazines, bottles of soda and much more — all made of plastic. Plastic name-brand products range from Bag Appétit Magazine to Bagarino Capperonni frozen pizza. One of Frohardt’s favorite items in the exhibit is her plastic sushi, but she’s also excited to share her new Texas-themed items, made specifically for this installation.
“I’m currently working on some Texas-style barbecue, some brisket,” says Frohardt. “It’s fun to make very Texas-specific products. We always try to include items for the place we’re going to when we go to different cities.”
Co-produced by Frohardt and Pomegranate Arts, The Plastic Bag Store will be presented by Texas Performing Arts as part of its 40th Anniversary Season. One-hour performances will run multiple times per day Wednesdays through Sundays through April.
“The Plastic Bag Store is an ambitious work that uses humor and whimsy to ask the serious question ‘What is going to happen to all of the plastic?’” says Texas Performing Arts’ Executive and Artistic Director Bob Bursey. “We’re thrilled to bring this special project to Austin after acclaimed runs in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.”
From April 13 to 17, the final days of the installation, select performances will be free for guests to attend as a part of the 2022 Fusebox Festival. Tickets for those select times will be available to festival goers beginning March 24 at fuseboxfestival.com.
To view performance times and purchase tickets for all other performances, available for $25, visit texasperformingarts.org.