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Shanghai, China

Shanghart Supermarket

This supermarket in Shanghai appears to be a typical Chinese convenience store, but all of the bottles are empty and all the containers are filled with nothing but air. 

Sorry, Shanghart Supermarket is permanently closed.

Xu Zhen is a young, contemporary Chinese artist who looks to combine conceptual art with social critique. Critical of global consumerism, he created an empty supermarket that sells absolutely nothing.

Shanghart Supermarket, which currently is showing in Shanghai, looks like any typical convenience store from the outside. Chinese shoppers often walk inside in search of actual supermarket goods, without the slightest clue that they won’t find any content inside of the packaging.

For the first few seconds, everything looks normal. Products like toothbrushes, sodas, and shampoos are fully stocked along the aisles of the store. But, after a few seconds, the customers become befuddled as they realize that there is no liquid in any of the bottles, and all the containers are light as a feather, filled with nothing but air. This was made possible with the painstaking process of buying thousands of real products, delicately opening them, emptying them of all content, and then sealing the packaging back up.

In an interview with AJ+, Vigy Jin, a worker at Shanghart Supermarket says “this work is actually opposing crazy consumerism; everyone sees the colorful appearance, but they don’t pay attention to the actual things inside it.”

Know Before You Go

This was a temporary exhibition and is no longer there