Markets in everything: the uncollectible artwork

by on January 20, 2010 at 4:07 am in The Arts | Permalink

Felix Salmon reports:

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter is an artwork by Caleb Larsen, currently for sale on eBay. If it hasn’t sold in the next couple of days – the minimum bid is $2,500 – it will go back on eBay. On the other hand, if it does sell, it will still go back on eBay. That’s what it does, as clearly explained in the legal contract accompanying the work:

Artist has created a work of art titled “A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009)” (“the Artwork”) which consists of a black box that places itself for sale on the auction website “eBay” (the “Auction Venue”) every seven (7) days. The Artwork consists of the combination of the black box or cube, the electronics contained therein, and the concept that such a physical object “sells itself” every week.

Philip Walker January 20, 2010 at 6:02 am

Please tell me a clever lawyer is going to work out a loophole.

John Faben January 20, 2010 at 8:26 am

I quite like this clause:

> Any failure to follow these terms without prior consent of Artist will forfeit the status of the Artwork as a legitimate work of art.

Seems like the Artist has solved a problem that art critics have been wrestling with for decades… question is, what if another artist buys it and fails to follow the terms deliberately, in a way which would make it into a work of art?

Robert Scarth January 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

“…what if another artist buys it and fails to follow the terms deliberately…”

Then the original work of art is destroyed and a new work of art comes into existence manifesting itself in a physical form indistinguishable from the original work of art; the art is dead, long live the art.

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