Displacing the Body, Grounding the Mind

Grocery Store Meditation

Meditating is perhaps the most interior practice in which humans engage. My goal in juxtaposing these two images is not only to displace the body within the act of meditation, but moreover to present the search for an identity in an external world of consumer products.  It is hard to maintain the equanimity necessary to meditate and find peace in a private domestic space like the bedroom, but the practice becomes even more difficult when the chains of a materialism take us further and further away from self realization. Instead we are tempted to construct a version of happiness through the objects we purchase. Shoppers’ reacted to the grocery store meditation with confusion and awkwardness, unsure how to approach my photographer and me. They were really reacting toward the recontextualization of meditation because it was a means to find individuality in a public space that demands conformity through the purchase of the same goods. This experiment is meant to illustrate that, when displaced, deep thought and the desire for a better existence is one way to generate what Mark Chou and Roland Bleiker refer to in their essay “Betrayed by Democracy” as “prefigurative politics,” or “a genre of activism that is small in scale and limited in impact but nevertheless can show the way toward a more democratic political community” (232).  Two shoppers did approach me and we started a dialog about these very ideas.