Wednesday, 7 July 2010



28 AUG - 28 SEPT. 2008

FEATURED ARTISTS: James Lee Byers, Paul McCaron, Bruce Connor, John Copnall, I. Crucky, Rob Delves, Richard Evans, H20 Designs, ‘Tony Hart’, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Jackie Hunter, David Jackson, Staz Johnson, Moonshadow, Takashi Murakami, Michael Noonan, Meret Oppenheim, Terry Rabida, Reggie, riyder1987, Rocketarts, Ileana Stancescu, Craig Stevens, Shondra Su, Bryan Talbot, Carol Taylor, Ryan Terry, Tom of Finland, Lydia Turner, Andy Warhol, Betty Woolcock, and those artists who remain anonymous.

The rules are simple. Take a modest amount of money (enough for a pretty nice holiday, not enough for a new car), and use it to buy works of art from UK-based sellers on eBay over a ten day period. Wait for the works to arrive at the gallery. Organise them into a show.

The rules, though, are not so simple, or are at least not the usual rules. Conventionally, the curator shows artists who have a critical reputation, and has more than a few days to think and to research. Conventionally, he or she does not buy works for an exhibition from anonymous sellers on the internet, and does not trust the shipping of these works to the vagaries of parcel post. ‘View Basket’ does without negotiations with artists, collectors, or shippers. Its registrar is a ‘my eBay’ page. If the exhibition eschews the usual institutional responsibilities, however, it is not to question their ordinary necessity, but rather to ask why, under these extraordinary circumstances, we might comfortably let them go.

During ‘View Basket’s ten-day buying period, eBay’s art pages, from which all the works in the show were purchased, listed around 40,000 items for sale from British sellers at any one time. From this number, Hayward Curator Tom Morton selected just over 100. Beyond the practical criteria of price, the central concern was to identify works that belong to the private space of the home rather then the public space of the arts institution, a category that encompasses ‘thrift store’ and ‘folk’ art’ (genres archived in ongoing projects by the artists Jim Shaw and Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane), but also ornamental sculpture, original comic art collected by fans of the medium, and multiples and ephemera by significant historical and contemporary artists. If the immediate origin of these works is domestic, however, it should be remembered that behind each one is the story of why it was put up for sale. To speculate on the social lives of individual pieces in the exhibition here seems unnecessary, but to imagine that each vendor’s motivation was purely financial is a poor act of imagining indeed.

‘View Basket’ is a show about origins and methodology, yet in the unusual process of its making some unbidden themes have emerged, among them celebrity, geometry, faith, sex, power, evolution, and laughter as a form of resistance. Perhaps another ten day period on eBay would have thrown up a quite different group of works, with quite different things to suggest about the world. If so, ‘View Basket’ provides, then, a micro-history of last week, a time so proximate that we might not have noticed that it has already passed.


News article in The Independent (contains inaccuracies)

News article in The Sun

News article from (contains inaccuracies)