stephanie syjuco


Black Markets

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Self Constructions 








Black Market, framed Fuji lightjet print, 30" x 40"


Black Market Series

Framed Fuji lightjet prints and sculptural components
Nine images total

The “Black Market” series consists of altered images downloaded from the internet, as well as sculptural reconfigurations of commodities. I use images of marketplaces in the Philippines that have an array of goods being displayed by vendors, and “black out” the products digitally so it essentially removes the commodities—mainly produce, foodstuffs, and other commonly traded items in local markets.

In thinking on the global control of goods and capital exercised by multi-national corporations, I began to speculate that the term "black market"”could not only come to refer to knock-off or imitation goods, but any item being sold or produced that falls outside of the “sanctioned” channels of capitalism. The very idea of a “black market” implies that there is a proper and regulated way to consume and produce, a definition that is increasingly tilted towards global export and import. Could it be possible that traders and small farmers who grow and sell their goods in local (farmer's) markets, by virtue of not participating in a global or corporate flow of capital and production, are creating their own black market, as it could come to be defined? The term itself conjures up images of contraband weapons, drugs, illegal merchandise, human trafficking, and shady backroom deals. What if produce and local handicrafts were seen to be just as dangerous?

The resulting images from this series depict both the absence and the overwhelming presence of the goods for sale, as it is hard to ignore what is being blatantly blotted out. Accompanying them will be “black market” items—sculptures that look like oddly provocative blobs of varying shapes and sizes. Painted black, they are covered in layers of paper mache to form a hard skin and protective coat. Inside are “ex-products”: items that were at one time commodities but are no longer so (by either being cast-out, broken, non-functioning, or obsolete), which are then bound together in some manner to form strange shapes before being covered in an outer skin. The blobjects will be laid out on the floor or on raised surfaces and platforms of some kind, to suggest an outdoor market or display area. I envision an interesting array of strange shapes that may or may not suggest what they contain inside, and are re-purposed ex-products that have entered into an alternate form of production and consumption apart from their initial use.

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