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November 01, 2007 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-01

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Thursday, November 1, 2007 - 3B

The IKEA
in all o

You're driving a good 45
miles-her-hour through
commercial America in
your obnoxious SUV, on a street
lined with fast-food chains and gas
stations, dotted with strip malls
and the odd car wash, when the
colorful flicker of bright blue and
yellow flags waving in the distance
catch your
eye. You steer
toward them,
unable to dis-
tract yourself
from the colds- r
sal building
that begins to
reveal itself. , CAROLINE
As the doors HARTIVANN
swoosh open, -- - -
the scent of cinnamon rolls and 50-
cent hot dogs overwhelm the sens-
es. You'll notice the customers and
employees bustling about are unex-
pectedly chipper --these people are
smiling. Children happily tag along,
jumping at their parents' heels after
an hour or so in the supervised,
indoor-playground equivalent to
any kid's wonderland.
It's the North Pole of discount
megastores. It's IKEA.
Oh, to be guided through the
maze-like showroom in search of
the perfect bookshelf or collaps-
ing on the rows of sofas begging to
be sampled. Meandering through
the Market Hall en route to the
Self-Serve Area, where the words
"in stock" have never sounded so
beautiful. Sure, it's exhausting, and
lugging around a queen-sized mat-
tress on a pushcart seems daunting
at the end of the day, but damn is it
rewarding. If you've never shopped
at IKEA, you've never really
shopped.
Storage lockers, pencils, paper,
tape measures, store guides, com-
puter stations and strollers. These
guys have thought of everything.
But let's not forget shoppers
have come for the products them-
selves, and they won't go home
disappointed. IKEA relies on high
quality and innovative design with
a contemporary look: functional-

ity meets aesthetics. Donned with
a word of Nordic origin - accord-
ing to a somewhat arbitrary prod-
uct-naming system - every item
also aspires to the Swedish ideal
of environmental sustainability, an
aspect of product design the United
States has yet to champion.
And if nothing else, IKEA is
cheap. I'm talking $3.99-for-a-
working-desk-lamp cheap. Not
even Wal-Mart can compare to
those prices, let alone offer the
same well-rounded business prac-
tice that IKEA trumpets.
To Americans, IKEA looks like
the epitome of progressive con-
sumerism: affordable, well-made
products; eco-friendly production
processes; and quality working
conditions around the globe. IKEA
seems to shed new light on capi-
talism, but to the rest of the world
IKEA is old news. Founded in 1943
by Ingvar Kamprad, the Sweden-
based company has more than 200
stores in 37 countries and shows
no sign of slowing development. I
mean, they just opened a store in
Canton.
Once again, America is pitted as
the impetuous teenager in need of
careful instruction from the more
seasoned corners of the globe. But
frankly, the New World could take
the tip.
It's no secret why IKEA's prices
are so low. Experts seek out cost-
effective production methods,
buy inexpensive materials in vol-
ume and the customer helps out.
Shoppers pick up their own mer-
chandise, have the option of self-
checkout and assemble most items
at home with easy-to-follow direc-
tions and basic tools, so that you're
not charged extra for tasks you can
do yourself America doesn't have
low-cost, high-quality goods the
way other developed countries do,
but not because we don't have the
means - our "consumerist caste
system" prevents an egalitarian
approach to product design. It's
either Armani or the dollar store,
with little in between (and no,
See IKEA, Page 4B

OLESZKO
From page 1B
costumes as part of her shtick, playing with
language, culture and the female body.
"I recognize abnormality and absurdity
in everyday life," Oleszko said. "I take it as
inspiration, using it as a stepping-off point
for my work."
Oleszko's work began when she was at the
University, trying to make the framework for
a sculpture that would hang up on the wall.
Eventually, she just hung it on herself, and so
began a new tradition.
Her work has been performed on the
street, on a burlesque stage, in more than 30
films and even at New York City's Museum
POTSH OW glas
dan
From page 1B
fere
spread worldwide to cities such as Bar- the
celona, Tokyo, London, New York and dar
now Ann Arbor. said
But each city brings with it an inher- D
ently different Slideluck. eve
"We don'twanttheshowinAnnArbor a ye
to feel like New York City. We try to tion
show artists that are working in a com- bei
munity for that community," Kelbaugh pre
said, adding that the frequent Oregon it's
Slidelucks are packed with images of out
rock climbing, ski-trips and vegan cas- asv
serole. (For his part, he recommends the
Cherry Clafuti and Ants on a Log recipes ona
from the Slideluck website.) sitt
The event gives artists the chance to rien
take risks with their material. Kelbaugh "(TI
gave the example of one photographer tha
who has built acareer on photographing Peo

of Modern Art. Oleszko has been profiled
in Sesame Street magazine, Ms. magazine
and Playboy magazine. She's won numerous
grants and awards including some at the Ann
Arbor Film Festival, a Guggenheim Fellow-
ship and, most recent, a year in residency at
the American Academy in Rome living and
working with a group of artists, art histori-
ans and archeologists.
But the moment Oleszko describes as her
most incredible is the time she stopped traffic
on Fifth Avenue in New York with her street
performance "The Padettes of P.O. Town."
In it she dressed up in a suit that looked
like three Michelin men - one red, one yel-
low and one blue, dancing in sync to Motown
hits.
"(It) really took on all of the noise and the
sware but who also likes to shoot fire
cing and ballet.
The event satisfies a completely dif-
nt side of your personality, show us
stuff you are excited by, the little
lings that don't get to be aired," he
d.
Depending on tonight's response, the
nt could happen two or three times
ear. And though there are modifica-
is for this first round (the meal is
ng catered instead of pot-lucked, but
-packed desserts are encouraged),
a chance for artists to get their work
and see what other artists are doing
well.
It's one thing to click through work
a website, but it's another thing to be
ing in a room with 500 people expe-
icing it together," Kelbaugh said.
'he Slideluck) is not the kind of thing
ltpeople breeze in and breeze out of. Another c
ple are committed." Schottenk

accumulation of all the input in New York,"
Oleszko said. "You can wear a costume in
New York, and no matter what it is, unless it's
overtly sexual, people will just walk by. This
costume was engaging, though. I had kids fol-
lowingme, taxis stopping and people offering
to give me rides."
For today's show at The Michigan Theater,
Oleszko plans to show films from a few other
performances as a brief introduction to her
featured work, which deals with "bizarre ele-
ments" of the current political administra-
tion.
At times Oleszko's political performance
artwork has been censored. Unfazed, she
finds a small thrill in the backlash.
"It means that people find my work strong
enouch to euse a reaction " she said

ontribution by the Daily's managing photo editor, Peter
els, to the Slideluck Potshow.

J

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