PLACEText: Kristy Kagari Sakai

A bright white light beams from an unassuming street in Mitte-Nord, Berlin. As I am drawn automatically to this unusually fluorescent spectacle, I can’t help but wonder why it feels so familiar. Curiosity increasing, I begin to walk a little faster – and then I realise. It’s the same lighting that filters from the numerous conbini (convenience stores) in Japan. Aha! Even the small sign hanging above says “KioskShop Berlin“. The nostalgia made me smile, but that only lasted a moment. For this was not just any kiosk…

A refrigerated stand to the right hand side, a drinks fridge at the back, white shelves surrounding all around. What fills them seem to be your usual everyday goods, except that they are all covered in some sort of opaque-white coating, giving them an eerie presence. Actually this kiosk shop, it is a permanent installation by Berlin resident artist, H.N.Semjon.

On any average day in any average neighbourhood kiosk, people come to buy their newspapers and necessities, to chat with the owner, or simply to swap information. H.N.Semjon wants to confront how we take such familiarities for granted, confusing us and making us rethink our ordinary surroundings. His “product sculptures”, including coke cans, cigarettes, cereals, shampoo, junk food – everyday goods in instantly recognisable packaging seems to be the key – with their contents intact and coated in bleached beeswax, invite curiosity and demand to be observed as a painting in a museum would be. Originally shown as a temporary exhibition, this permanent setting of a real shop seems to be able to unleash the latent potential lurking within these artworks.

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