Coffin, Window Dressing Series, curated by James MacDevitt, Cerritos College Art Gallery, CA
Luciana Abait´s installation, Coffin, stems from the demise of retail stores due to the global online sales and explores the impact this has had on the urban environment, the workforce, and social interactions. The last decade has seen traditional retail spaces eclipsed by the rise of online commerce. Many brick-and-mortar stores, the most visible element of which is the window display, are now often empty, leaving the urban environment profoundly altered. At the same time, shoppers content to consume via screens, see less need to leave their homes and even workplace communities decline as online companies operate with a smaller, more productive, workforce. Just as a new economic system is concentrating more power and wealth in the hands of a select few, the majority of people have become less engaged and therefore less likely to band together to counteract that imbalance. The installation, Coffin, presents the window display as an artifact of a dead economy, an enclosed environment that keeps, in a metaphorical manner, the dead retail shopping tradition and the cultural ephemera connected to, and drives from, it. The interior dioarama portrays, ironically, the current state of e-commerce through the layout of monumental three-dimensional mountains made of paper maps from all over the world, randomly arranged to refer to the sense of loss of logical order, and linked togetherness with lines of red yard resembeling both flight patterns and a detective's board visualizing the clues from a murder investigation. Holding everything up, the backbone of the new economy, is a pile of cardboard boxes covered in a recognizable, slightly menacing, smiling logo. The installation implores spectators to reflect on the long-term consequences of our daily actions, and how this will shape the future of our globalized cities.