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Modern Art Museum Displayed Garage Sale That was an Actual Garage Sale

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On December 21, 2013 @ 9:26 am In The Point | 15 Comments

It’s art! A better question is who is that Art fellow anyway. Forget Banksy. Even without him, the modern art establishment keeps finding new depths of ridiculousness. And how better to capture that ridiculous than a garage sale.

Unlike the dismembered horses, sugar packet piles and random smears of paint, you expect to see at a modern art museum, this was an actual garage sale at which you could buy things.

What distinguishes an art exhibit that is a garage sale from an actual garage sale? Because it’s also a metaphor. Obviously.

For her first solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York–based artist Martha Rosler presents her work Meta-Monumental Garage Sale, a large-scale version of the classic American garage sale, in which Museum visitors can browse and buy second-hand goods organized, displayed, and sold by the artist. The installation fills MoMA’s Marron Atrium with strange and everyday objects donated by the artist, MoMA staff, and the general public, creating a lively space for exchange between Rosler and her customers as they haggle over prices. If customers agree, they may be photographed with their purchases. The project also includes a newspaper and an active website.

Martha Rosler is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of her generation, one whose artistic practice, teaching, and writing continue to influence succeeding generations. Rosler makes “art about the commonplace, art that illuminates social life,” examining the everyday by means of photography, performance, video, and installation.

And nothing illuminates social life better than inviting bored wealthy idiots over to a parody of a garage sale as a metaphor for America.

Rosler’s Garage Sale implicates visitors in face-to-face transactions within a secondary, informal cash economy—exactly like garage sales held outside the museum setting.

To the left, buying something at a garage sale, “implicates” you. What’s next? How about a Museum of Modern Art installation that is also a gift shop as a meta-metaphor for gift shops.

In New York, people who wish to rid themselves of castoffs simply put them on the street for other, perhaps less fortunate, people to take home and use. There was no thought of that in any garage sale, of course; these sales were apparently about maximizing one’s, or one’s family’s, cash on hand, often put together and run by the woman of the house, and perhaps her children. At the time, the US was suffering the famous oil shock, and the economy was in bad shape. No wonder people were trying to make ends meet by selling their goods! But the motive of charity and sharing seemed absent.

This is a year old, but this is why I thought this garbage was worth posting. This is how detached the art world is from real life that it has to stage a mockery of real life.

 Nor did people seem to think it was dirty or beneath them to be seen sitting on their lawn chairs all day, waiting for customers to drop by and haggle

Unlike “artists” who don’t think it’s beneath them to mock the people who end up paying for their ridiculous antics.


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