The proliferation of flea markets in the culture of developed countries can be considered as part of the processes of esthetization and the gamification of life on one hand, – and puerility culture on the other. The main thing that makes the flea market is that a person can set free the “inner child” and at the same time protest the fashion of disposable items or disposable linear relationships.
The flea market can also be seen as a consequence of the process of “showization” of contemporary culture, understood as a tendency to see the performance first of all in every phenomenon of life. The flea market includes the performance elements of everyday life and aestheticization of life but is not limited to the performance of being an urban scene.
Some dress in outlandish costume just to attend a flea market since it is a place to display and create oneself, a diorama of drag and exoticism. No wonder that since ages the flea markets are the natural biotope of artists who often take inspiration from the accidental combinations of objects and the eccentric visitors.
The flea market is a meeting place for the various groups filling or visiting the big cities, looking for rare yet inexpensive items to fill their apartments. Stories of treasures found in the flea are numerous: a Picasso sculpture, photographs by Diane Arbus, a painting by Basquiat, and a lamp designed by Alberto Giacometti, etc.…
Dozens of commercial and personal vendors sell elegant bags, artfully crafted jewelry, and fancy clothes that often match the currently trending 60’s and 80’s style. Even vintage furniture and accessories, from antique floor lamps to exquisite coffee services, as well as old photo cameras (especially Polaroid cameras) and other kitschy souvenirs can be bought at one or the other stand for a reasonable price. In between these second-hand stands, local artists and producers offer their paintings and sculptures and other regional products such as wine for sale. What is more, all types of music, especially those pressed on vinyl, can be found here in abundance. Thanks to an extensive range of food stalls, your second-hand shopping spree can potentially last all day.
In the 1920s, the Surrealist writer André Breton was walking daily through the Paris flea markets, which he refers to in Nadja and L’Amour Fou. Man Ray created sculptures from what he found in flea markets, including the neck of a double bass and paired it with the long, flowing hair of a horse. .
Cadeau’, Man Ray, 1921
Flea markets have intrinsic dispositions, so while you may enter certain of what you want to find, allow the flea market to introduce you to new and more fruitful categories. Also, one of the fascinations of the flea market, as the Surrealists noted, is the random juxtaposition of objects — it is a dreamscape, opening the mind to new and poetic areas. Take a notebook and a sketch block.