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Sport 25: Spring 2000

Mary Macpherson — 17 Days of Shopping

page 80

Mary Macpherson

17 Days of Shopping

17 Days of Shopping is a record of all the food and groceries I bought over a period of 17 days. They're pictures of what comes home in the supermarket and takeout bags.

My interest in the subject began with commercial imagery, especially the newspaper ads for supermarkets where each clearly drawn or photographed item lives in its own space, complete with details of the offer. I found this haunting combination of commerce, individuality and repetition in other places like real estate ads and pictures of food outside Asian restaurants. This made me want to create my own record by photographing my purchases.

As I worked I remembered how New Zealand was once a place of vegetable gardens and home baking, when takeouts or restaurant meals were special events. Now what's important is to have the money to buy groceries and food from the supermarket. Increasingly, the food is processed and packaged so we can heat and eat.

Purchases are guided by brands, especially the pictures, text and design on packages. Curiously, these images often refer back to rural scenes, flowers or freshness as a guide for purchasing. Competitions and quizzes are also part of selling the basic necessities of life. On the backs of packages the ingredients or manufacturing details are listed—signs of the complex infrastructure that's needed to manufacture and distribute food and the laws that protect consumers.

The full 17 Days of Shopping work consists of 95 photographs and emphasises the procession of goods that flow in and out of our lives. The work reproduced here is a representative selection of those images.

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