British artist Lucy Sparrow is paying homage to the classic NYC bodega with an art installation in The Standard, High Line called "8 Till Late." Her life-size replica of a corner convenience store features over 9,000 items handmade out of felt. The products, which include boxes of Lucky Charms, SPAM, bug spray, Advil, Ruffles potato chips, and mildly anthropomorphic meat, are all for sale, both in person and through Sparrow's website. It's just like a real bodega, but softer and infinitely more precious. And yes, of course there is a felt bodega cat chilling near the felt fridge stocked with felt ice cream.
In an interview with the Standard's culture website, Sparrow explains, "People get really overwhelmed [by the level of detail] when they come in. Not so many people would be bothered to do that, but that’s the thing that separates it from if you were going to make things out of felt and sell them on Etsy—it consumes your entire life. There’s no measure of what’s too much. It’s those extreme levels that I don’t see other people doing that make it an overwhelming experience. Sometimes I forget how weird it actually is."
The weirdness extends to the felt deli counter, where visitors can assemble fabric sandwiches from felt pastrami or felt salt beef with felt pickles. There is also a "fully functioning hot dog stand, where customers can help themselves to a squeeze of complimentary glitter glue mustard and ketchup." Don't worry about food poisoning—you can always get a felt stomach pump later, ha ha I'll show myself out.
Sparrow says the project arose out of her love for Mom & Pop shops, which are often threatened by bigger chains. "I want the work to make people think about the loss of community spaces when these small corner shops disappear; to remind them how valuable these corner shops really are and the color they bring to our lives."
The Meatpacking District installation is an iteration of a similar project Sparrow did in London, England called "The Cornershop" (what Brits call their neighborhood convenience stores). In that version, Sparrow says some visitors took the alternative felt reality to a new level: "I had a couple of girls come in and they’d made a felt checkbook, and they tried to pay me with a felt check for their purchases, and I thought 'Yes! You get it!'"
"8 Till Late" is open for business in the Garden Room at The Standard, High Line (entrance at 69 Little West 12th Street) from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. through June 30th.