Self-Auctioning Art Object Perpetually Sells Itself on eBay


Yes, this art literally sells itself … over and over and over again. Buyer beware: the artwork is yours only until it decides to try and list itself, once again, for purchase to the highest bidder. It can happen “moments or years” from the point of purchase – these things are hard to predict. A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009) by Caleb Larsen is a box. A black box, to be precise. With one catch: a cord that connects it to the internet, and a contract stating that person (listed as “The Collector”) who purchases it must keep it plugged in at all times – and sell it whenever the cube is won at auction.

An ingenious perpetual-motion machine for the digital age, it is as much a performance piece par excellence as a collector’s item. According to the artist, it is essentially ‘void’ if the contractual obligations of the buyer are not fulfilled and ceases to be a work of art in the eyes of its creator. All the same, with the box pinging eBay every few minutes to see if it is for sale (or sold) … it must be tempting to pull the plug before someone can scoop up such a prize – particularly one which costs thousands of dollars.

Other money-themed artworks by Larsen include the $10,000 Sculpture – a simple dollar bill acceptor slot removed from a standard vending machine and placed on a blank wall without context or explanation. Can you guess what it does? Other works from his collection include the opportunity for a collector to incur the credit card debt of the artist as well as a commemorative plaque commemorating nothing … save for the donors who made the creation of the plaque possible through their generous cash donations.

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