Much like my visit to last year’s Museum of Ice Cream, I was drawn to Lucy Sparrow’s 8 ’till Late because of the bright colors and a chance to play with food. The pop-up was a recreation of a NYC bodega and packed with grocery items all made out of felt, but unlike the MOIC you could purchase anything in the store to take home for funsies.
The “fauxdega” was nestled under the High Line at a space owned by the Standard Hotel and was free entry. The size and flow was the same as any convenience store, only there was WAY more picture taking. It’s another Instagram dream, one where people were laughing over the absurdity of beer or a pregnancy test made out of felt. I giggled a lot.
What stuck out to me wasn’t realized until later, so I did some research. I’ve come to think of bodegas as a symbol of Latino culture, and the familiarity of the word “bodega” becoming part of the NYC area language to be as common as “halal” or “chorizo”. They don’t need explanations, despite not being English, and are a sign of the diversity we have in our communities. Bodegas reflect that, so I was kinda disappointed to not see many “ethnic” food items in felt. I checked out the website to see a list of everything that was made, and out of 370 items only 8 were ethnic, and all were associated with Latinos. (They didn’t even have TAKIS </3)
Ms. Sparrow said that “8 ’Till Late” is about such threatened establishments — about “communities being lost as neighborhoods are transformed.” By installing a felted bodega where most real ones have been priced out, she can share “this alternate reality that is this preferred version of real life.”– The New York Times
I appreciate Sparrow’s vision but I don’t think everyone came into the store thinking about that significance, or bothered to read the leaflets that shared her ideas before you walked in the door. How bodegas came to be a main stay didn’t cross my mind until later, they’ve always been a part of the landscape, and so looking them up was an interesting rabbit hole.
Yet if the installation got someone thinking that art exists outside of picture frames in quiet rooms, or got a great laugh out of a felted Playboy magazine, then that’s valuable too. I really enjoyed my visit and overall loved how FUN it was.
The bodega was supposed to be open until the end of June, but it was so bumping that it sold out 9 days sooner. I’ve been following Sparrow on Instagram and thoroughly enjoying her wild ride while hoping I can see where she pops up next!
As for me? I got a felt tic tac box. I like collecting small things from museum gift shops and using them as Christmas tree ornaments.