Walker Art Center


February 06, 2003

We have no past

Sometimes supermarkets make me cry. It happens in different places in different supermarkets, but it always involves the same product: cream cheese from the brand ‘The Danish Chef’. In the supermarket I nowadays go to you have to walk past the bright colored part where parents bring their kids to watch DVDs and use some computer hooked to a touch-screen. Then turn left at the boot where a young lady wearing a ridiculous supermarket uniform is showing new products to people. (She always has salty things on Saturday mornings because a nationwide statistical research revealed that that’s the day when people are most likely to have a hangover in Holland.) Go past one of the big fat freezers this supermarket has and you’re there.

This specific brand of cream cheese comes in a tube with a face printed on it: a fat chef with a long curly mustache that has his eyes closed, probably because he is tasting the contents of his own tube. The cap of the tube is a chef’s hat. They sell this specific cream cheese since the days I was a little kid and they have not changed the tube since. It is pure nostalgia that makes me cry. It could have been anything, really: the honey in little bear shaped bottles or the Swiss cheese my mother stopped giving me because I almost choked on it. But they do not sell these anymore and even if they do they would have changed the packing long ago to meet today’s marketing standards.

I know it is not right to feel that urge. Especially not in a supermarket. For two reasons: the functional definition of a supermarket does not contain the phrase ‘a place where people can cry’. You can ask any trained and graduated supermarket manager and he can tell you that it is not there. And – of all places – the supermarket represents the omnipresent truth of today’s world: we have no past. We only have a future. And that future is a glorious one filled with futuristic things that we can all enjoy, together. Maybe that truth is even more omnipresent in the big shopping malls where they sell electronics and computers and digital camera’s and DVD players and microwaves and supersonic hairdryers that have Boeing Noise Reduction (tm) build in and an attached mp3 player so you can listen to your own music while your hair is dried and the more luxurious models have a digital camera attached to them so you can make before and after pictures of yourself and email them directly to you boyfriend’s mobile phone with the phrase ‘I love you’ spoken out loud using the True Voice (tm) of Marilyn Monroe or Britney Spears. But they do not sell cream cheese there, so I will never feel the urge to cry there, or would I?

Posted by Jeroen Goulooze at February 6, 2003 07:44 AM
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