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.


DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Design & Architecture
Culture Yesterday

Messaging Add-On Helps You Correct Your Friends’ Bad Grammar

An iMessage sticker pack will help you copyedit text messages

Automotive Yesterday

Mercedes-Benz Introduces A New Electric Mobility Brand

The separate entity aims to simplify the identification of Mercedes EV products to customers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Mobile Yesterday

Tinder’s New Feature Makes Swiping A Group Effort

The dating app wants to democratize its gestural interaction by buying in to the social polling trend pervasive among millennials

Related Expert

Scott Thrift

Patient Horologist

Syndicated Yesterday

Autonomous Garbage Drone Prevents Trash From Reaching Deep Ocean

The solar-powered WasteShark collects refuse closer to the source: the harbor

Automotive Yesterday

Aston Martin Reveals Its Own Luxury Powerboat

The sleek AM37 echoes styling elements from the British brand's sports cars

Advertising Yesterday

An Escort Website Fights Violence Against Sex Workers

The advocacy campaign from McCann aims uncover the human toll of the exploitative industry


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 29, 2016

Digital Design Expert: Mobile First Is Dead, Think Mobile Native

Brian Cooper, chief creative officer of OLIVER Group UK, explains how some brands are still playing catch-up to new technology

PSFK Labs september 29, 2016

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Culture Yesterday

LIFE Magazine Relaunches In Pure VR

The general interest periodical, which ceased publication in 2000, has turned into a portal for virtual reality content

Mobile Yesterday

Reorder This Detox Drink With A Simple Text Message

Dirty Lemon is streamlining its communication by letting customers place orders, ask product questions and request help exclusively through chat

Op-Ed Yesterday

The Future Of The American Workforce Requires Unbundling College Education

President of JetBlue Technology Ventures: developing corporate education programs for non-traditional students

Retail Yesterday

Gilt’s Pop-Up House Is The Kind Of Store You’ll Want To Live In

The New York City townhouse plays host to the latest in retail inspiration, curation, and lifestyle activation (and some libations, too)


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Mobile Yesterday

Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

A new bot aims to mobilize underrepresented groups this election season through SMS and Facebook Messenger

Africa Yesterday

Virtual Reality Game Gives Lessons About Emergency Birth Care

LIFE is a serious tool that takes advantage of new technology to help save lives

Luxury Yesterday

Shoe Repair Has Moved Onto Your Phone

Cobbler Concierge is an on-demand service to get your footwear fixed online

No search results found.