Trader Joe’s won’t be at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street for at least a year, but there’s so much anticipation in the air that artists are already weighing in.
The other day, a line started forming outside the future home of Trader Joe’s — but it didn’t take long for locals to realize that the customers were merely members of peoplmovr, a two-year-old art collective co-founded by Carroll Gardens residents Aaron Cedolia and Geoffrey Scott.
The collective’s work has been popping up all over town, mostly as part of a series of pieces called “The Walker,” in which one or two people stand on a street corner and enter a fugue state (look, it’s a statement about alienation, OK?). Last week’s Trader Joe’s lineup was more of a social satire, explained Cedolia, who checked in this week with our own fugue editor, Gersh Kuntzman.
Q: So what was this piece all about?
A: For us, it was a humorous look at anticipation and commerce and culture in New York City. We had people stand outside a grocery store that isn’t open yet, and a lot of people in the neighborhood seemed to get it right away.
Q: Because of our hot, sweaty anticipation about Trader Joe’s?
A: Right. This project wouldn’t have made sense anywhere else. We couldn’t do this project outside a Publix grocery store in Florida. It wouldn’t make sense for an arts group to stand outside it a year before. But here, it made sense right away.
Q: But what is the meaning?
A: (laughs) That’s something else we don’t force on people. We like to have people make their own idea. But for us, it was a humorous look at anticipation.
Q: It’s actually a satire about our commercial culture, no?
A: It could be seen that way. Most of our work has one or two people. But at Trader Joe’s, we had people in the project keep showing up for the entire hour and getting on line. People watching it saw it grow and change. It’s a site-specific installation.
Q: And the white shirts and black pants? Someone said it reminded them of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
A: No. They were just left over from a previous project. But we decided to use them rather than street clothes so there would be an aesthetic formality.
Q: You mean so it would stand out, right? But what was your inspiration?
A: I first read about the Trader Joe’s in The Brooklyn Paper, of course. But then was amazed at how quickly I was receiving emails and text messages from people in the neighborhood about it. And now there are hundreds of blog posts and pages out there on it.
Q: It’s not just the neighbors who want it. The politicians had a parade from Borough Hall to the store site on the day the deal was announced!
A: We’re kind of amazed by how much everyone is talking about it.
Q: And it all started with The Brooklyn Paper.
A: It now comes full circle with this interview, I guess.