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Families Ask Why belongs to Operation Supermarket (2006), a collaborative series of 10 prints by Iranian artists Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Aliabadi.
The project features well-known images of commodity advertisements and packages of household objects, which in the words of the artists "mix poetry with detergent". The use of the world Supermarket in the title represents an allusion to global consumerism and on how the products displayed in the artworks represent the vehicle of its manifestation.
Moshiri and Aliabadi have re-branded the original objects, keeping the recognizable packaging design but manipulating the labels by replacing the logos with ironic sentences. The couple deployed eye-catching, ready-made advertisements, leveraging on their appeal on the public as a platform to raise questions and smuggle new ideas.
The new nature of the resulting image, altered from advertisement to artwork, modifies its significance and the way it is perceived by the viewers, allowing it to become a vehicle for a wider discourse on capitalism. The visual immediateness of these graphics – which belong to a common global imaginary - is used to convey a message inherently opposed to their original meaning.
Ultimately, Operation Supermarket points out the pervasive effect of Western capitalism on the lives of the general public, reflects on its limitations, and criticizes the endless appeal that it exerts over the masses.