A written response – Zoë Sheehan Saldaña

In a series of work entitled Shopdropping (2003), Zoe Sheehan bought several items from Wal-Mart  and proceeded to duplicate the item by hand, one of them was a woman’s blouse. Sheehan reproduced the items, in similar-looking material copied the patterns, using matching fabrics and threads. After re-attaching the original tags, including the price tag, she digitally scanned each of the newly tagged items individually, against a white background and attaches them to the original Wal-Mart purchases.



Together with a picture of the copies and shop-dropped piece the original Wal-Mart’s close are displayed in conventional art settings.



Sheehan thinks of these more as “ ‘duplication’ than ‘reproductions’, with a fair amount of ‘mutation’. In her Shopdropping series, she translates a machine-made object into a handmade object, and that handmade object into a flat, photographic image.
Sheehan states, “I’m motivated by curiosity, enchantment, and a sense of desperate optimism in the face of the ferocious disconnection that characterizes daily life in post-industrial America. I prefer to make problems, not solutions. My hope is that the art I create provokes unsettledness, to make us consider once again that which we thought we knew”.

Sheehan exploits familiar brand as Wal-Mart and her art actions critique contemporary consumer culture. Her act raises a question regarding social criticism – should one’s acts be publicly known in order to criticize a social phenomenon? In Sheehan’s work, there is a fine line between publishing her act and concealing it.

On one hand, she has to stay out of Wal-Mart’s radar. On the other hand, someone has to know about her actions in order to share her says. Thus, a delicate balance should remain between what is known and what is unknown in order the work to be effective. In my opinion, Sheehan enjoys from the fact that maybe there are some costumes that are unaware of how lucky they are. She critic the consumers and the brand – there is now a real value for clothes or of the labor of the person how makes them.

Sheehan does not keep track if anyone buys her work, but the mystery is all part of the creative process. “I like to make work that generates questions rather than making work that promotes answers,” says Saldana. By embedding the handmade items she erases any uniqueness of her handmade art.

The only original thing she uses and by that she makes the handmade a Wal-Mart’s position are the price tickets. By putting a life scale scan of these price tags on the original pieces, she makes them a piece of art. That enables the two wearables to switch roles as if the are The Prince and the Pauper.

However, I find her last actions confusing and by that weakening her artistic input. In her website, she offers items such as Rolling Papers and a Match for $69.99 and $19.99 respectively. Since the price represents the materials and her handwork and not the price of the ‘duplicates’, it seems as if Sheehan’s new message is bragging in her technical skills.



Marisa Jahn, “Shopdropping,” Crosswalk, no. 2, vol. 1, p.

Benjamin Genocchio, “Clothes Bought Off the Rack and Secretly Put Back On,” New York Times, 2 Oct. ‘05.

Alia Akkam, “Under a bridge, a span of styles,” New York Daily News, 14 October 2004, p. 52.

Andrea Miller-Keller, “Zoë Sheehan Saldaña: Shopdropping at Wal-Mart” (brochure), Real Art Ways.

Artist personal website – http://www.zoesheehan.com/index.htm

Categories: Art Strategies

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