Overrated shamanic poseur Joseph Beuys once made an installation called Economic Values. This was a cabinet filled with what he considered to be consumer goods with a certain sachlichkeit - anything in packaging that didn't make a fuss, that announced what it contained without dishonesty and cant. These packages were mainly taken from the former DDR, where presumably consumerism was unencumbered by the need to aggressively flog the product - a familar Ostalgie trope, as seen in sites like the Sammlung zur DDR-Alltagskultur - and one that rests more of the unchanging nature of the design, where it is seemingly 1960 forever, than the properties of the design itself, which has much in common with midcentury design in the west - accordingly, a few BRD boxes had crept into Beuys' cabinet as well.
If there is a contemporary British equivalent to this it would be the various no frills ranges of the supermarkets. Arguably, the plain facade of the Tesco Value package is in some sort of lineage with DDR design and its 1920s antecedents - a decidedly Fordist approach, reminding of why Throbbing Gristle were so fixated with the place, slotted alongside Dalston and the Death Camps in their geography ('Tesco Disco' indeed). By far the finest though is the Sainsburys Basics Range. While the design lacks the strictness and starkness of its competitor, it impresses most because of the terse little slogans that they feature. They have a curious function, seemingly intent on inducing a certain shame in the purchaser while ostensibly trumpeting the attractiveness of the product despite certain defects which we acknowledge.
So, yesterday I filled a basket entirely from the aforementioned basics range, and can now regale you with a few of my favourites of these slogans. Simple, still in mint condition. Mixed bag, all colours and sizes. Less fruit, spreads more smoothly. No fancy packaging, just a good bar of chocolate. All shapes, all sizes. Simple recipe, brightens up meals. Washes, no added frills. Simple recipe, plenty to chew over. From concentrate, from around the world. Not so nutty, still crunchy. Less chunky, still meaty. Some broken, still fluffy when cooked. With 5% fruit, a real thirst quencher.