Beer statue TEST - DO NOT BUY.JPG
Untitled (141831674795), formerly known as: Beer statue TEST - DO NOT BUY

I haven't written much about the eBay Test Listings project here since eBay shut it down and forced it into a different configuration. I'm happy to have it exist primarily on eBay, where it conspires against itself, making success and failure interchangeable.

ceci n'est pas 600px: just noticed it's actually 500px

They don't search well. The titles are opaque. The pricing across the series makes people wonder. And after surfing through the 800 even less expensive items in the "photographs > directly from artist" category, it turns out these aren't always even the most eye-popping.

NJB PADEBAY test auction do not bid:buy Track-1.jpg

So it really does come back to their unique situation, unlike literally every other thing on eBay: they were specifically made and chosen to not be sold. To not be found, and to not be found attractive. At least to a bidder or buyer. Yet they are still made and chosen in some way, for some surpassing reason beyond their function. [An image is required for every eBay listing, even a test listing with nothing to sell.] And so I'm intrigued by the otherwise invisible images made by otherwise invisible people, which are intended to be seen by no one but themselves and maybe their colleagues, and their bots.

Really I just wanted an excuse to post that [bear+deer=] beer statue picture.

eBay Test Listing prints for sale, only through Art Basel Miami, though [ebay]

Untitled (DO NOT BID OR BUY)
Proposte monocrome, ebay, rose

"Untitled" (L.A.), FKA "Untitled" (Rossmore) image via christies

Howard Rachofsky bought Felix Gonzalez-Torres' 1991 candy pour, "Untitled" (Rossmore)" in 1998. It consists of green wrapped candies spread on the floor with an ideal weight of 50 lbs. That was presumably the title when Ranbir Singh purchased it in 1991, and when he sold it in 1998, even though the 1997 catalogue raisonne lists it as "Untitled" (L.A.). [Another candy pour from 1991, also with green candies, but an ideal weight of 75 lbs., bears the orphan title "Untitled" (Rossmore II).] Rachofsky loaned his pour to the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, and exhibited in a bathtub of his Richard Meier-designed house.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, "Untitled" (L.A.), 1991, as installed in Howard Rachofsky's tub, image by Andrea Duffie via forthworthanewperspective

Rachofsky and his wife donated or pledged the house and much of his collection to the Dallas Museum in 2005-Cindy Rachofsky specifically mentions the Felix piece in this interview-so it's frankly baffling that he sold "Untitled" (L.A.) last week at Christie's, even if it did bring $7.7 million. But DFW's loss is Bentonville's gain.

ArtNEWS reports the buyer of "Untitled" (L.A.) is Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I would imagine that the politics of the Wal-Mart heir would have pissed off and/or inspired Felix to no end. But after re-reading his 1995 interview with Rob Storr about politics and culture and audience, and how he wanted to operate like a spy, I think he'd see the acquisition of his work by Crystal Bridges as a triumph. He has successfully infiltrated the beating red state heart of America's conservative plutocracy.

Of course, in the 20 years after the artist's death, the cultural terrain has shifted, and if it doesn't exactly end up being the wrong one, the mountain Felix scaled offers views of still higher, more difficult peaks.

And so it occurred to me almost instantly to make another piece, inspired by Walton's "Untitled" (L.A.) acquisition: "Untitled" (Crystal Bridges) consists of Wal-Mart money, free for the taking and endlessly replenished, with an ideal installation weight of 50 lbs. It could be a pour, but it probably works best in Felix's other trademark form, as a stack piece. It looks a bit like "Untitled" (Passport #II), but with cash instead of little booklets.

"Untitled" (Passport #II), 1993

A US banknote weighs just under a gram, so 50 lbs is around 25,000 bills. They should all be of the same denomination, whether it's singles ($25,000) or $100s ($2.5 million), as long as there is an endless supply.

$207 million of Sinaloa drug cartel cash weighed 4,500 lbs, not an ideal weight for the sculpture, but I'll leave that to the owner's discretion.

Since the Walton family only has $147 billion right now, they'll have to manage the installation with an eye on both ROI and replenishment rates. I'm sure they can do it.

image of 1M Hauly from SDR Traveller

I've rebooted Felix works before, but I think the idea for this piece crystallized so immediately because I'd been primed to consider the spatial implications of a million dollars in cash. Just a few days ago, Michael Sippey tweeted about the 1M Hauly, a high-performance duffel bag by SDR Traveller optimized for the secure, discreet transport of $1 million, in 10,000 $100s.

fat v. flat, via SDR Traveller

Turns out used, street, dirty money takes up as much as 40% more space than crisp, fresh bank product, but the 1M Hauly can handle it all. When strapped, 10,000 bills fits into a 20.4 lb cube 18x12x6 inches. So if it were stacked, "Untitled" (Crystal Bridges) could be an 18x18-in square about 10 inches high. It's an adorable scale, domestic, almost intimate, which will provide endless [sic] enjoyment and engagement for museum visitors. As long as they don't get too grabby. And as long as the Waltons don't go broke.

[I haven't exactly asked, but I bet SDR Traveller would be willing to discuss the commission of a custom-sized travel bag for "Untitled" (Crystal Bridges). Interested collectors should get in touch with me for details.]

uncut sheets of new $100 bills at BEP in 2013, image: AP/LM Otero

UPDATE: OR, maybe there is another way. Uncut currency sheets sell for a premium from the Bureau of Printing & Engraving, but they'd really give the piece a Felixian feel. The ideal height for a stack of 32-note sheets like the ones above would be about 775 sheets, about 6 inches. The BEP online store only has 16-note sheets, though, for $1,800 each. See if you can get a volume discount, or a subscription.

Previously: On Politics and Art
suddenly related: "Untitled" (Orpheus, Twice), 2012

November 7, 2015



A few weeks ago Eric Doeringer asked me to contribute to a project, RPFleaMarket, that poured Richard Prince-related appropriation objects into the eBay mold of Rob Pruitt's Flea Market. It's pretty awesome, and like Rob's own joint, everything comes with an autographed photo of the item for sale.

So if a never-released Untitled (300x404) proof printed on aluminum is not enticing enough for you, this one comes with a glossy 8x10 photo of it, suitable for framing!

There are also a couple of one-off hand-altered editions of the Cariou v. Prince documents, and a whole host of interesting objects, artifacts, publications, and LMAO IDKs. Check it out on Eric's eBay page.

Cowboy Photograph by Greg Allen [sic] not RICHARD PRINCE Appropriation RPFleamarket, current bid $45.44, ends Nov. 12 [ebay]


They are not the kind of thing to get excited over, necessarily, but every time I think about Agnes Martin's 1973 screenprint portfolio On A Clear Day, I like them a lot. [I did not like seeing a complete set baking in the sun in someone's freshly renovated loft kitchen one time, though. Respect, people.]

Martin had given up painting for seven years, and the invitation from Luitpold Domberger to create a print portfolio was instrumental in Martin's decision to start making work again. [That she was also preparing for her first mid-career retrospective at the ICA in Philadelphia at the time might have helped. I guess we should read the new biography and find out.]


Anyway, On A Clear Day is 30 images Martin selected from over 300 drawings she'd done in 1971. So a subset, perhaps, more than a series. And a mechanical interpretation of her hand marking process.

The 8x8 prints on 12x12 sheets are printed in an edition of 50, plus 14 APs. It is not clear how many portfolios were kept together, but a bunch were broken up, and loosies show up at auction all the time. One's coming up at Doyle in a couple of weeks, in fact: plate 8 from ed. 49/50. The estimate seems a bit low, but it says there's a soft crease in the image.

I hate broken up sets, and have long wondered if you could put one back together. And by you, obviously, I mean me. How long would it take? Could you track them down, or do you just have to wait and watch? Which number should you work on? Should you keep a stash of loosies available anyway, to trade with reluctant sellers?

What have these prints been through since they've been apart? Have they been cared for, kept out of the sun? Framed nicely? Framed crappily? Lone silkscreens are not very precious. And there are nearly 2,000 of these things out there. Some might be shoved in drawers, or stuck inside a book. Isn't it likely that some might not have survived at all? If there are already a couple dozen complete sets around, what's the value to Martin's legacy of one more?

But I guess it's not really for or about Martin at all. She just provided the raw material for the project. If a reassembled Agnes Martin portfolio is a new work, Untitled (On A Clear Day), would an assemblage of mismatched Martin prints be a study?

I remember very well the set of ten On A Clear Day prints up top, which were at Phillips in 2008. They are a ragtag bunch of misfits, actually: three "a.p.s," six "p.p.s", and only one actual numbered print: plate 4 from, oh hey, 49/50. This project may start right now.

Oct. 27, 2015: Lot 125 Agnes Martin (1912-2004), ON A CLEAR DAY, est. $1,000-1,500 [doylenewyork]


I am bewildered and psyched in equal parts to announce the presence of some objects at Internet Yami-Ichi New York, this coming Saturday (9/12) at Knockdown Center in Maspeth.

Michael Sarff from MTAA invited me to show some black-marketable items in Over The Opening (OTO) a space (blanket) he is curating, so I sent along the following:


Hand-colored editions of Canal Zone Richard Prince Yes Rasta and CZRPYR 2. The original book with Richard Prince's full Cariou v. Prince deposition transcript includes a hand-painted bookplate tipped in with paint, in homage to Prince's technical innovations on the Canal Zone series. CZRPYR 2 includes the complete set of altered illustrations created by the Appeals Court, hand-tinted in the manner of publishers of yore. Supplies will be pretty damn limited.


A rare and exclusive selection of Local Pick-up Only #eBayTestListing prints. Because price and shipping parameters are intrinsic aspects of the eBay Test Listing series, it was not conceptually reasonable to just stick a bunch of prints in a portfolio and sell them like crack on the street. So the only prints available at Yami-Ichi are those few whose eBay listings have local pick-up or store pickup options. Buy them right then and there on eBay, and take them home. Is how it will work.

OTO will also feature pieces from Yael Kanarek's World of Awe; Waterbear flatware by Raphaele Shirley; canonical Before Facebook-era artifacts from MTAA; and the premiere of Sarff's new audio project, Music 4 Music 4 Airports. Like I said, psyched and bewildered. Should be awesome.

Over The Opening (OTO) @ the Internet Yami-ichi (Internet Black Market) []

September 4, 2015

On The Golden Record


Could this really be happening? Four years ago I wished for a way to play back the Golden Record, the earthly calling card stuck to the sides of the Voyager space probes nearly 40 years ago. I knew all the recordings and diagrams and photos Carl Sagan and friends recorded on there, but I wondered what it would actually be like to play it back? What would the 116 images turn out like if you played them off an analog record with a needle, and then assembled the 512 raster lines?

I wanted to find an extra Golden Record and play it, which turned out to be hard-to-impossible. And also unnecessary. [Though I'm still game, if you have a Golden Record I can borrow!] Because the Record has been played.

A few weeks ago, Man Bartlett tweeted about some strange electronic passages in a NASA recording of the Golden Record:

And then sound artist Ranjit Bhatnagar identified them as the encoded data for the 116 photographs. Here's one of the first images Ranjit processed, the aliens' intro to Earth Math:


above: Image of math chemistry from Voyager 1 by Frank Drake, below: same image decoded by Ranjit Bhatnagar

So this is it. The answer was sitting right there on the Internet Archive the whole time. And yet.


above/below: image of Earth, and image of Earth decoded from Voyager 1 by Kyle McDonald

Within a few minutes of Ranjit's decoding, code artist Kyle McDonald happened by, and blew things wide open with his distortion adjustments, which he promptly documented and pushed to github. So it just took four years and one serendipitous hour. And now we know that the images we've sent out into the universe look like a 1970s TV with a tinfoil antenna.

Voyager1 audio track []
Kyle McDonald | Voyager 1 Decoding [github]
Previously: Off The Golden Record

Cover, "Why We Should Talk About Cady Noland", a zine published by Brian Sholis in 2004, image:

It's been a while since I've put up an edition of Better Read, audio works made from worthwhile art texts read by a machine. But yesterday I listened to "Why We Should Talk About Cady Noland," Brian Sholis' 2004 zine essay while I was working, and I decided to clean it up for public enjoyment. Which basically involves extra punctuation marks to smooth the flow, and tweaking the spellings so the computer voice will read French or German plausibly.

As the title implies, Sholis's essay argued for the continued relevance of Noland's work and writing at a time when firsthand encounters with both were hard to come by. Now it's also a useful reminder that there's more to talk about than auction prices and lawsuits.

Better Read: Brian Sholis on Cady Noland 20150810.mp3 [dropbox]
Original text: Jan. 20, 2004: Cady Noland []
Previous Better Reads: Rosalind Krauss; Ray Johnson; W.H. Auden



I have added some prints found during the earliest days of the eBay Test Listings project, but only made available now for sale and entertainment which, after all, are the same thing.

See all available eBay Test Listings prints on eBay [ebay]

Oh no, I was too slow. I was in the middle of a deadline-intensive project when I suggested that. While I understood the reluctance, even the revulsion, an artist might feel, but being compelled by a judge to make a "large and impressive" artwork--and a $350,000 one, no less--sounded like a fascinating situation. What would you do?

..., 2015, oak and polychrome Madonna and child, French Early Gothic 1280- 1320; marble torso of Apollo, Roman workshop, 1st-2nd century ad; steel 154.2 × 50 × 50 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery [works list (pdf) via]

Well, today, just as I was mapping out the parameters of my own proposal, Danh Vo apparently answered that question himself. His proposal to Dutch-in-Switzerland collector Bert Kreuk was a little unclear in the details, but it involves a quote from the demon possessing Regan in The Exorcist, which Vo had also used for a piece in his show at Marian Goodman in London last January, and which he included in "Slip of the Tongue," his fantastic group show at Punta della Dogana in Venice. [I guess it's still available. Ask for it by name!]

Maybe Vo already had this whole Kreuk/Gemeentemuseum/lawsuit situation on his mind when he chose The Exorcist for his source material. Who knows? But the artwork parameters cited in the court's new ruling in Kreuk's lawsuit are intriguing enough to lay out, and at least give some though to the question: What Would Danh Vo Do?

July 16, 2015

Lightning Field Notes

John Cliett's photo of Walter de Maria's The Lightning Field, 1977, on the cover of Artforum (Apr. 1980)

From the beginning, access to The Lightning Field has been tightly monitored by the administrative machine surrounding the project. Visitors to the site are required to spend the night and are not allowed to take photographs during their stay. Indeed the entire project is predicated on the viewer's personal physical experience of the work in its location. Yet, at the same time, the artist and his patrons have also sought to stake out a particular presence in the wider discourse of contemporary art for The Lightning Field, a goal they have accomplished in part through a carefully orchestrated approach to photographic documentation.

[John] Cliett worked from the beginning with De Maria on formulating the scheme for photographing The Lightning Field; many of the most often-reproduced images of the Field, including those which famously introduced it to the art world in the pages of the April 1980 issue of Artforum magazine, come from his two summer sessions. Indeed, that so many viewers have come to know The Lightning Field through these images--a fraction of the total he took, strategically promulgated over the years by the artist and Dia--emphasizes their essential role in the artist's plan for shaping the image and promoting the "idea" of the work.

Well beyond the artist's own writing, Jeffrey Kastner's interview with The Lightning Field photographer John Cliett has been central to my understanding of the work since 2001.

Cliett told of taking the extraordinary, iconic, and extremely difficult pictures of The Lightning Field, but also of how images are antithetical to de Maria's concept for the work. This contradiction between the artwork and the art system surrounding it generated tension similar to other Land Art. During the 1970s and 80s when Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty was considered "lost" or invisible under the Great Salt Lake, the artist's film became the focus of critical attention.

De Maria felt that even this iconic imagery, which Cliett later jokingly compared to "a Pink Floyd album cover," could only ever fail to communicate the experience of the work. "Walter's work is designed to create an environment where a viewer can have a highly personal relationship with a work of art that is completely unique to each individual," Cliett said.

But the images had another purpose, controlling the discussion of the work, as I was reminded when I re-read Kastner's interview this summer:

With respect to the copyright, if you control the picture of a work of art, you will control everything that's said about it, because nobody will publish an article without pictures. So you get the right to pick, and that's a very powerful thing.

Yes, well.

After many discussions, dreams, and failed attempts over 22 years, we managed to get a trip to The Lightning Field together for this summer. We built the rest of our cross-country road trip around it and got home a couple of weeks ago. A visit takes basically 21 hours, starting at 2pm, no stragglers. Dia's folks on the ground drive you to and from the remote site. There is room for six people in the cabin; in addition to our family of four, there was a young couple from Brooklyn.

I'm not sure when I decided to livetweet our visit to The Lightning Field, maybe after I started seeing people I knew from Twitter in the registry. Or when I read one excited, tweet-sized comment left by a dealer about soaking in the sublime, which seemed like a lot to feel before you even get there. And so as I was about to learn the difference between an image and an artwork, I started thinking about real and virtual, individual and network, living and publishing, an account and an experience, a livetweet and IRL.


Without wanting to blow my actual encounter with The Lightning Field, I was interested to isolate what happens when you approach an experience with a livetweeting mindset: do livetweeters dream of 140-character sheep? Since there was cameraphones, and no hope of connectivity anyway, I decided to write my tweets down. My black Field Notes book looks very iPhone-ish, and I was quickly aware of being glued to it like any other screen, so I did not write every tweet in real time; I'd put some in my mental drafts folder and batch them.

There's still a lot that didn't make it in. Stuff I left out. But from there, also what de Maria left out. After several ventures into and around the Field, the artist's almost total silence on the land itself is stunning. "The land is not the setting for the work but part of the work," wrote de Maria, in bold, at the beginning of his Artforum essay. He wrote that the site was "searched by truck over a five-year period," and that's about it. The entire rest of his statement is about the hyper-precise calculations, surveying, and technical challenges of manufacturing and installing the poles. There are two pages of credits for the companies and construction workers involved.

Like Cliett's photos, de Maria's industrial fetish text was intended to manage the discourse around the work. No one could dismiss it as nonsensical, non-serious or unintentional. And it's not some basement project, either; this is not your grandpappy's mile of fence. Yet the only way to get around The Lightning Field is on foot, and the landscape makes you literally watch every step. And then there were the coyotes howling at sunrise, hoo boy, that was freaky.


I ended the livetweeting right before our ride came, but one of the most interesting parts for me was the drive back to town, and the conversation with Kim, the longtime Dia staffer who runs the guest program on the ground. I decided not to tweet that, though, just as I didn't really mention our cabinmates too much. Besides basic respect for their privacy, I figure that's also truer to the work: tweets aren't reporting, but a reflection of a single, individual experience.

Once I had this notebook of tweets, I had to figure out what to do with it. I scanned them and figured I'd play them back, tweet them in real time. That idea quickly ran afoul of my schedule. I guess I could have set a script to automatically post them at the prescribed times, but instead I tweeted each by hand, beginning yesterday at around 2 o'clock New Mexico time. I didn't anticipate the friction of overlaying this recap of The Lightning Field with my back-to-normal life. Where visiting The Lightning Field was an intensely physical experience, livetweeting The Lightning Field became all about time. I could not anticipate the next tweet accurately; I was always way too early. I got in trouble for tweeting at the dinner table. I realized only after I started that twitter-as-usual would kind of blow the whole thing, so I stopped retweeting and responding to people until it was done. [Sorry!]

I may work the tweets up into an edition, a facsimile notebook or something. Dan Perjovschi made a little sketchbook facsimile for Kunsthalle Basel a few years ago that I like, and Field Notes are the perfect on-brand readymade. Or maybe I'll do some other project, involving barnwood, Hudson's Bay blankets and yoga mats. I don't know yet, but something's sure to come of it.

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Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: etc.

recent projects, &c.

eBay Test Listings
Mar 2015 —
about | proposte monocrome, rose
bid or buy available prints on ebay

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99