Friday, August 10

TradeMe eats itself: Auction sites reused by artists

William Boling is an accomplished photographer. He studied drawing and painting at Georgia State University and L'Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Rennes, France. Featured on both Rhizome and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boling's studies of time and place are restrained and rigorous. But for this latest series of work, he didn't travel or scout locations. He surfed.

Finding and pairing objects from both TradeMe and it's U.S. counterpart, eBay, Boling created a series of odd couples - dress shoes and deer hooves, paintings and princess diana posters. Through Window, he's printed these and auctioning them off over the next month. To complicate matters, he's then taking the screenshots, emails, and user feedback involved in the first phase, compiling them into 3 books, and auctioning these off at the end of the project.

And while this is new terrain for photography, subverting web services and highlighting art as commodity has cropped up in other places recently. Daniel Malone purchased space for himself to promote his recent Gambia Show, "Black market next to my name". An upcoming show at Te Tuhi will also utilise TradeMe extensively. Austrian artists Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio staged "Google Will Eat Itself" a couple years ago, filtering funds received from Google AdWords to purchase stock in the global search giant.

Update: Emil McAvoy's "Better Work Stories" series follows this pattern, confronting TradeMe buyers with disturbing history both old and new: 1981 Springbok riots and police rape allegations. His "Police Baton sculpture for sale" features 3 batons in red, white and blue, incorporating molds of the artist's penis. Current bid: $1,010.00.

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