May 27, 2005

Something fishy

Hey, I've got a funny joke for you! Point at a piece of modern art, and say "I could do that!"

Have you picked yourself up off the floor yet? Yes, folks, the new 'n' edgy Radar Magazine has put a fish in formaldehyde – just like Damien Hirst! Or not. Actually, they don't even get their facts right: they say that Hirst sold his shark for $8 million, when he actually sold it for £50,000 to Charles Saatchi, who in turn resold it to Steven Cohen. In fact, there's a rumour in the art world that, far from selling the work, Hirst actually attempted to buy it.

But never mind that: Radar's come up with an extra gimmick. After putting a blowfish in a 10-gallon tank of formaldehyde for $88, Radar decided to auction off the faux Hirst on eBay. A cute idea: would the pickled fish get more than the cost of materials? Or would someone be able to walk off with the joke artwork for a coupla bucks? Actually, neither of the above. If you go to the auction page, you'll fine a reserve of $80,000 on the fish, guaranteeing that no one will bid on it. In other words, the auction is even more fake than the artwork is. Can someone tell me what the point of having it is?

Posted by Felix at 12:01 AM GMT

Isn't thinking of it first the whole point? Putting a dead fish in a tank isn't new, and selling art on eBay isn't new either.

What would be new is to sell new ideas for modern art pieces and performance art on eBay.

Maybe I should auction off the idea "sell new ideas for modern art pieces and performance art on eBay" on eBay as a piece of performance art.

But then I'd have to buy it myself. What if I can't meet the reserve?

Posted by: Stefan on May 27, 2005 07:10 AM

Felix - The reserve is to reinforce the fact underlying premise of the joke that art is ridiculously expensive in relation to the raw material costs inherent in the object.

This stands the pop cultural "Priceless" Master Card advertisements and web related parodies aped by countless college sophomores on their head. To take this reasoning further and inquire why a metallic substance which comes from the ground or a piece of printed paper is inheritably valuable would regrettably take the joke a bit too far.

But I have a better article for you. What if I took all my old issues of Spy Magazine and cleverly reissued them on the newstand at full price with no reserve whatsoever.

You'll have to find your own copy of the "My Kid Could Make That" article that ran in the late eighties but I remember it too.


Posted by: Gherimiah on May 27, 2005 05:57 PM

What's the point of the auction or the point of a fish in a tank of formaldehyde?

Posted by: Sterling on May 28, 2005 06:40 PM