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Tag Archives: YYZ Gallery


Retail shopping has never been as intriguing as it is now at the Massive Sale :YYZ Mall. Conceptualized by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins this foray into the capitalistic world of shopping twists the consumers view of purchasing into unexpected means. The moniker “Marmco” International” offers up 430 square feet of retail fantasy.


Configured as stalls within the gallery (think chic flea market), the artistic retailers poke fun and inject humour into the entire notion of shopping as the modern consumer realizes. Gone is the notion of the “Wall Mart” greeter who cheerfully greets you at the door. In its stead stands a forlorn silent clown slapping a welcome carpet at your feet and scrawling messages to the consumer on wall hung newsprint paper. Upon entering the actual retail space you are greeted with four small businesses each catering to a different thematic entity. Marman and Borins have acted as business consultants to the artists who were approached with the idea of opening their own store and what that would entail. The whole concept was born out a summer residency at YYZ in which Marman and Borins partook.


Each artist definitely brings their own brand of style, sensibility and acumen to the table. The four retailers not only compete in an understated manner with us, but draw the shopper to not only purchase but also become part of the experience themselves. This in turn subverts the passive and at times mind-numbing act of shopping into an occurrence that is both engaging and thought provoking.


Perhaps the most eccentric and engrossing of the four is Ken Ogawa and his store “156 Ehohe” which blends seamlessly a money exchange, perfumery and mini-golf. Resplendent in a white nurses dress and a string of pearls Ogawa invites the consumer, on the lure of winning a prize, to try their hand at putting the a golf ball through the ubiquitous last hole windmill. Failure at a prize means the shopper would still be able to purchase a vial of perfume blended by the artist or a banknote stating the denomination of 4.7. This twist in the production of a currency that does not actually exist in our society at once confounds our pre-conceived notions of monetary exchange.


Aleks Ognjanovich of “War and Leisure” (a hawker if ever I did hear one) loudly and aggressively beckons with subtle insult, to partake of his line of men’s “leisurewear” which may be ideally suited to the trendy playboy type. Not for the faint of heart, blood stained t-shirts greet you upon arrival or perhaps a custom made track suit, headband or baby blanket…your’s for the buying. Ognjanovich’s style of selling may be in your face but is a welcome turn from the stock passive line of “may I help you” proffered by most clerks today.


Things take a comedic turn as you step into the studio of Ulysses Castellanos,otherwise known as “Chirajito” clown painter. Here the tired shopper may sit and have their portrait painted by the costumed artist or perhaps purchase a vintage vinyl record. Simple, sweeping ink filled brushstrokes are transformed into your own likeness as a clown, imbuing the portrait with your own unique and distinctive character . Forget the quick photo based portrait booths found in some malls but instead come away with a resemblance that will not fit in your wallet. Bravo!


The Shinn family and “Shinndustry International” rounds out the shopping experience with their detailed and somewhat serious look at fonts and typography. The head of the family, Nick, is by trade a graphic designer and typographer and his wife and children lend their hands to the business as well. Projected onto the near wall are fonts of varying degree chosen by the client themselves, with guidance from the expert, and which can be purchased on a CD. The adjacent shelves also carry an assortment of font-based products from clothing to books. Personal service here is emphasized and attention to detail turns this store into not only a retail service but also harkens back to a time when customer service was taken seriously.


Marman and Borins take an everyday modern occurrence like shopping and transform it into not only a statement about the current banality of retail but also into a statement of economics. If our economy is to grow and prosper we must invent ways and means to break out of our current stagnation and imagine a community of like-minded individuals who share in a collective manner of re-configuring the norm. YYZ Mall may just do that as a model for future consideration in a time when the deluded consumer needs it the most.