At first glance, The Plastic Bag Store is a corner store-type market like any other, complete with bins of produce, shelves lined with cereal boxes and freezers full of ready-to-eat meals. Take a closer look, though, and you'll quickly realize what's amiss: All the items in the store, right down to the brightly colored bananas and tomatoes in their cases, are made of plastic.
The Plastic Bag Store—part public art installation, part immersive puppet film experience—is the work of artist and puppeteer Robin Frohardt and her puppetry ensemble, who created the store to call attention to the lasting damages of consumerism and single-use plastics. Among the store's well-stocked shelves, visitors can browse items like "Lake O Bags" butter, "American Plastic" cigarettes and "Bagarino" frozen pizzas and countless other goods fashioned from discarded plastic packaging. It's a hyper-detailed and grim spectacle, inviting viewers to interrogate the overwhelming effects of our culture's plastic consumption—and how long its effects will linger on the Earth after we're gone.
You can tour The Plastic Bag Store for free when it comes to The Wrigley Building this January as part of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. Plus, catch timed screenings of Frohardt's immersive puppet film, a 60-minute story featuring puppets and shadow play to further elucidate the darker side to single-use plastics; tickets are $30 ($20 students). Check out the pop-up's full schedule below:
The Plastic Bag Store