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The Plastic Bag Store Opens In Times Square On October 22

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The Plastic Bag Store was originally slated to open in March 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The Plastic Bag Store Opens In Times Square On October 22

Times Square Arts has announced the official opening of The Plastic Bag Store, an immersive, site-specific public art installation and puppet film by Brooklyn-based artist Robin Frohardt, with original music by Freddi Price and produced by Pomegranate Arts.

The Plastic Bag Store-originally slated to open in March 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic-will now be on view Wednesdays through Saturdays, between October 22 - November 7, 2020 at 20 Times Square, coinciding with the reinstatement of New York's plastic bag ban-which was put on hold during the pandemic-and goes back into effect on October 19, 2020.

With The Plastic Bag Store, Robin Frohardt employs humor and craft to examine our culture of consumption and convenience, and the enduring effects of single-use plastics. Small groups will enter The Plastic Bag Store for a 60-minute immersive experience, featuring hidden sets and a captivating puppet film that explores how the overabundance of plastic waste we leave behind might be misinterpreted by future generations. Free and open to the public, The Plastic Bag Store brings back a sense of spectacle, theatrics, and entertainment to Times Square, a cultural hub that was always home to Broadway shows, live events, and tourist attractions on every corner. Tickets are free and open to the public - with limited capacity - making each hour-long experience a safe, clean, socially distant one.

"The Plastic Bag Store is a visually rich, tactile, and humorous experience that hopefully encourages a different way of thinking about the foreverness of plastic, the permanence of the disposable, and that there is no 'away' when we throw something out," said artist Robin Frohardt. "It is my attempt to make something authentic and human from that which is mass-produced. There is great humor to be found in the pitfalls of capitalism and I find that humor and satire can be powerful tools for social criticism especially with issues that feel too sad and overwhelming to confront directly."

The Plastic Bag Store artistically reinterprets a typical New York grocery store, but its colorful aisles will be stocked with products created with single-use plastics. Robin Frohardt has upcycled thousands of plastic bags to hand make everyday supermarket products, from pints of ice cream and whole rotisserie chickens to deli items, and cleaning supplies. Throughout the past seven months in quarantine, the artist has taken the time to create new products and experiences for the store, including a cigarette rack displaying brands like Marlbags and Lucky Bags and a reimagined puppet show through a new puppet film - which is central to the immersive installation - and will be released in full in the spring of 2021.

"Robin's ability to take a long view on our cultural legacy feels timely - within the unassuming and completely amusing proposal of a 'Plastic Bag Store,' she is addressing capitalism, consumerism, and climate change, and asking big questions about how what we value the least can become our most consequential inheritance. Yet through those questions, she also inspires us to believe that while some histories may be destined to repeat themselves, not all of them have to," said Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney.

The Plastic Bag Store's opening - which like New York's plastic bag ban, was paused by COVID until this October - is a reminder that in this fraught political and environmental landscape, on both a policy and personal level, there is an increasing urgency to understand the legacies we are passing on to future generations, and how our culture of convenience will have an impact on this earth for many years to come. In The Plastic Bag Store, Robin tackles these global concerns and the concept of 'forever' through the lens of a single plastic bag.

"At a time when we are whiplashed daily by the news of the day, Robin's work prods us, with creativity and wit, to think not just about the next two weeks, but also about the next two decades and the next two centuries," said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance. "What will remain hundreds of years hence? In Times Square, we hope that our legacy will be plays rather than piles of plastics, shows rather than scraps, imagination rather than excess."

Tompkins added that the opening "is also symbolically important and represents the resilience of Times Square. Days after we learned that Broadway will remain closed longer than expected, this theatrical event is a reminder that the creation of art continues unabated here, and that Times Square remains a focal point for the exploration of critical issues." He noted that "it affirms that art and culture and communal experiences - which people are yearning for - will ultimately be the drivers that bring back the 130 million people annually that have historically come to Times Square."

Times Square pedestrian counts, while still down from historic levels, have already rebounded to daily averages of 140,000 people (more, for example, than the pre-COVID attendance of Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and Animal Kingdom combined).

The Plastic Bag Store will be free and open to the public. Due to COVID-19 social distancing and capacity measures, prior registration is required. The Plastic Bag Store has developed comprehensive safety measures and enhanced cleaning procedures for visitors and staff, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State, and New York City. All visitors will be required to wear a face covering and practice social distancing by maintaining at least six feet from others. Hand sanitizer stations will be provided throughout the store.

For those who aren't able to visit The Plastic Bag Store in-person, stay tuned for more information on virtual visits, and a feature-length film to be released in spring of 2021 commissioned by UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance.


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