Value Creation, Curation And Art In The Age Of eBay & Tumblr

Value Creation, Curation And Art In The Age Of eBay & Tumblr

Free is the currency we deal in online: free articles, fee movies, free data. The latest show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, "Free" examines the ramifications of value from political as much as aesthetic contexts during this cultural reformation.

Lisa Baldini
  • 21 january 2011

Free is the currency we deal in online: free articles, free movies, free data. The latest show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Free examines the ramifications of value from political as much as aesthetic contexts during this cultural reformation.

We recently spoke with Hanne Mugaas, whose artistic gesture Secondary Market which highlights the buying, selling and curating of objects from eBay, addresses the very nature of this circulation of value (aura) in the art world through objects that extend it into popular culture. Subsequently, it asks how does perception and authorship of fine art play out in a mass, networked audience if the only relationship to a Picasso painting is from a picture of a t-shirt on Tumblr?

Can you explain the inspiration for your piece in Free?

The project takes its starting point in the secondary market of the art world, meaning art being sold without the artist involved, for instance at auctions. I then looked at which objects are being sold as “art” on eBay, the auction house of the web. The difference between these two secondary markets is of course that in the secondary market of the art world the value usually goes up, while on eBay, where the objects are copies, fakes, beaten down or watered out, value decrease. When I got invited to participate in Free, I started searching eBay for what was being sold as art at that particular time, and bid on objects that represented what was available. I ended up with objects such as a pillow from the Picasso Cafe, a Warhol shopping bag, a page ripped out of Artforum, and a sculpture resembling Haring.There might be an archaeological element involved in me digging into the digital archive of 2D art objects on eBay, bringing them out in 3D at the New Museum. The red shelves could be seen as decreasing graphs, further reflecting on the decreasing value.

How do you think a curator approaches a project like this versus an artist?

The project started off as a curatorial one. I was invited by Ooga Booga in LA to come up with a project for an abandoned store front next to their space. Instead of curating art objects through studio visits with artists, I curated objects off of eBay. I guess the project could be seen in the context of the ongoing discussion about online curating; that we’re all curating online through selecting content, copying and pasting, repurposing, and redistributing. I don’t think it’s important if the project is seen as curation or art; it has been shown in different kinds of contexts; from the store front, via a group show at an art institution, at an art fair, on a website, and finally at the art museum.

Can you explain the interest in secondary markets?

It’s interesting to me to look at how art travels and what art objects become once they’re no longer controlled by the artist, upon leaving the context that the artist intended for their work. One of my favorite things is to visit collector’s homes to look at how they install the art they have acquired; how they organize it around their house in relation to their other art or non-art. Similarly, I’m interested in how the Internet is taking this to the extreme by bringing everything, including art, out of context. On eBay, it’s really the Wild West; everything and anything is available, and there’s no or very little curation or control. Search “Picasso”, and you’ll get anything from supposedly authentic paintings to a 47 piece dinnerware set.

What does networked culture do to nostalgia in these markets?

It certainly makes obscure or lesser known objects instantly available. This is where the whole culture of online curation comes into play; the archeology of the web, where people dig, discover, and display these lesser known objects or images on their Tumblrs, it’s a kind of show-off; “look at this cool old stuff I managed to find”. Maybe in this respect, my installation could be seen as some sort of 3D Tumblr.

So, what do you think your inquiry into secondary markets does for ‘aura’ building of art objects? For instance, do you think there are two perceptions built: a high and a low one?

There is definitely what you could call an “aura” building to the objects I choose; they gain value once they’re chosen. Increasingly so in Free, where the objects have entered the art museum. The distinction is that they have become my work, they’re no longer individual objects, but one entity exhibited under the label ‘Secondary Market by Hanne Mugaas’.

Hanne Mugaas

Free is open at the New Museum through January 23rd.

Image Courtesy of Rhizome and the New Museum.


Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Work Today

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Conner Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Retail Today

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Technology Today

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants Today

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Related Expert

Amit Zoran

Integration of Classical & Computational Systems

Arts & Culture Today

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Technology Today

Wearable Device And Lamp Recreate Beautiful Sunsets In Your Home

Sun Memories can record up to six hours of natural light and reproduce it via a connected light at a later date

Design & Architecture Today

Flower Pencils Create Cherry Blossom Petals When Sharpened

A Japanese stationary company developed the special implements in order to create unique shavings


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 17, 2016

Home Depot Green Energy Expert: Americans Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Green tech expert Jennifer Tuohy discusses new home energy tech and developments for renewables in the US

PSFK Labs october 12, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

The Simpsons Is Stepping Into The World Of VR

To celebrate their 600th episode, the animated family sitcom created a virtual reality version of their opening gag

Syndicated Yesterday

Museum Exhibit Celebrates Strange Architectural Contraptions

Artist William Heath Robinson's peculiar genius is on display in this recent show with wiggling ducts, jumbles of planks and coils of cable

Food Yesterday

This Sensor Will Help You Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea Every Time

42Tea is a small device that guides you through every step of the brewing process, even identifying the type of leaves being used

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Norwegian Mountaineering Center Mimics A Snow-Capped Mountain

The structure's exterior is clad in a uniform surface of pixels to create a unique climbing experience

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Shopping Bag Turns Your Hands Into A LEGO

Designers from the School of Visual Arts thought up the Playbox Bag for a competition

Sustainability Yesterday

Giant Coffee Cups Encourage People To Recycle Their Morning Cup Of Joe

The Hubbub Foundation has created a set of themed bins meant to inspire recycling on a large scale

Home Yesterday

Small Device Creates A Personal Weather Station Inside In Your Home

Netatmo's new sensor is a standalone air quality monitor that can measure humidity, purity, noise and temperature

Travel Yesterday

Advertising Proposal Aims To Be The Most “Instagrammable Billboard In The World”

The Belltower in Los Angeles would allow video advertising and live event streaming, and include a pedestrian plaza for visitors

No search results found.