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Updated 10:45 AM January 4, 2007
 

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eBayaday: Curators transform Web auction site into art gallery

Exploring the relationship between art and commerce, three U-M curators have found a way to transform one of the most popular Internet destinations into an unusual yet timely venue for art.

"eBayaday," an exhibit that combines conceptual art, humor and questions about communications in the information age, is a month-long serial exhibit that began Dec. 1.

Each day an artist's work is featured on the Web site, www.ebayaday.com. The artist-generated auctions test the limits of the eBay marketplace as a site for the exchange of goods and money—at times, offering the opportunity for reflection, an unexpected conversation, a moment of beauty or a re-examination of how things are and should be valued, organizers of the site say.

The exhibition is curated by Rebekah Modrak, associate professor, and graduate student Zack Denfeld, both from the School of Art & Design (SOAD), and Aaron Ahuvia, associate professor, U-M-Dearborn School of Management.

Other artists have used eBay for exhibitions, but eBayaday may be the first one curated specifically for the site, and the first with its own Web site.

The concept for the exhibit began when Modrak challenged students in her Artist as Entrepreneur class to find alternative venues, along with diverse audiences and unusual contexts.

"We employ eBay as an art gallery, using the same conventional curatorial practices as any group exhibition—thinking thematically, considering timing, scheduling and other curatorial issues," Modrak says. "The hope is that the artists' interventions will stimulate conversation and make the world's online marketplace a richer marketplace for ideas."

Participating artists include conceptual artist Robin Kahn; visual, performance/theater artist William Pope L; Found Magazine editor/publisher Davy Rothbart; and public artist Ellen Harvey.

Along with each featured artist's work and biography will be a link to the eBay auction. The Web site also features an archive of all listings that currently are live or have ended and correspondence between artists and buyers/browsers.

In February the results of the online experience will be featured in an exhibition at the SOAD gallery, WORK, on State Street. The exhibition will include documentation of each artist's listing and disposition of each item. A book on the exhibit, including essays by the curators, will be published.

A podcast with curators Rebekah Modrak and Aaron Ahuvia can be found at www.umich.edu/news.

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