61°36'44.0"N 21°26'33.1"E

Instructions for Reverse Shoplifting

Tommi Ollikainen

Description of work

One of the practices I've adopted is a form of instructional poetry, in the spirit of fluxus scripts. Sort of recipes or workflows for experiences of clearing and possibly unlearning some of the colonial-capitalistic cultural conditioning and innate self-centeredness we human-animals carry. I'm looking for instructions that point at things I feel are real, but might have become invisible. Side products of our lifestyle, unconscious thinking patterns that direct our behavior, forms of interwovenness in the natural world.

I write a lot of instructions for my self. I'm a little neurotic like that. It helps me stay on track in the everyday and my work. I do it to stay curious, to remember to direct my attention to things I find important and life-affirming. I'm too easily absorbed by petty things. A good set of instructions help me root into a bigger picture. A recipe works like a belief system. It lists things that are good and how the elements should interact for something yummy to manifest.

A good recipe is based on knowledge of the origins and the qualities of the raw materials. It includes local and seasonal knowledge. Some recipes are specific to a time of harvest. They demand the one following the instructions to be located in a space and a time, to pay attention to the environment and the natural cycles. I don't believe in universal recipes. There is no recipe for life. What works for somebody somewhere might not work for me. Nowadays there is an illusion of knowledge and practices that can be universally applied. As if life could be managed and enjoyed by the same standard means by everybody everywhere.

The risk of an instruction becoming a dogma is real. It can be blinding, make you dumb. Recipes are coincidental for big part anyways. They're examples of how things could be. Most of the time you can replace or do without the ingredients you don't have in your cupboard. (Unless you're cooking acid or building a space-shuttle maybe) Writing down an instruction is a little dangerous this way. It can become limiting, the only imaginable way to proceed. For this reason, I think it's good for instructions to contain something impossible. A stage of the process that requires supernatural powers or an ingredient that is really hard to get. Makes you think a little bit.

Instructions for Reverse Shoplifting came to me in a specific environment, in the setting of Reposaari. It's a site-specific recipe for an action that takes space in a parking lot, a supermarket, and a graveyard on the island. In global times it is possible to enjoy shoplifted and reverse shoplifted Costa Rican bananas in many countries. However, setting the action in Reposaari gives the culinary experience a specific flavor.


I like to work. When the work comes from an intuitive place, I feel right. I don't really have an agenda, but I like to work. A lot of the material things in the world feel useless, meaningless. I wish not to be involved in creating more meaningless stuff. That's one of the fears I have, and partly the reason why I don't create that much. But I like to work.

Instructions for Reverse Shoplifting bananas in Reposaari

A suggestion for altering the destiny of bananas thrown to the waste at the supermarket. To participate, Find your way to the parking lot in front of Sale Reposaari, Kaivokatu 1.

  1. There are two large, green waste containers next to the the parking lot of the supermarket. Walk behind the mixed waste container (sekajäte). Open the lid on the wall of
    the container to dumpster dive one banana from the trash. Put the banana in a pocket
    or hide it inside your jacket.

  2. Enter the shop and smuggle the banana inside with you. Pick up a red shopping basket.

  3. Walk past the fruit and vegetable section to the end of the aisle, turn left and go to the bottle recycling machine. At the bottle recycling, double check that no one notices and place the banana inside the shopping basket.

  4. Go back to the fruit and vegetable section. Place the banana on the product scale. Press button 20 for Costa Rican bananas. The scale will print a barcode sticker with the price on it. Glue it to the banana and put it back to the basket.

  5. Walk to the check out. Place the banana on the conveyor belt to buy it. After paying, take the receipt from the sales person. Exit the shop.

  6. From the entrance, turn right and start walk on Kalliokatu. After about 750 meters you will find Reposaari greaveyard on your left. Enter the graveyard, and find a bench to sit on.

  7. Remove the barcode sticker from the banana and place it on the receipt. Peel the skin of the banana. Eat the fruit.

  8. Take the banana skin to a waste bin on the graveyard and place it into the bin. Close the lid and glue the barcode sticker on the wall of the container.

  9. With a smartphone, take a photograph of the receipt of the purchace. Please send the image as an email attachment to
    A record of bananas involved in this work will be created.