#Duchamp? Darren Bader Is Selling His Instagram and Twitter Handles as Readymade Art

Can you put a price on the art of social media?

Darren Bader. Photo by Sebastian Kim.
Darren Bader. Photo by Sebastian Kim.

Social media influencers can make as much as $10,000 for one sponsored Instagram post. Now, conceptual artist Darren Bader is taking the red-hot market for coveted online content one step further: He’s selling an entire Instagram and Twitter account—as art.

On Monday, the New York-based artist announced (fittingly, on Instagram and Twitter) that he would sell the @mined_oud accounts, as well as the email address they are registered under. He described the bundle as “a unique work/sculpture/thing/other.”

Bader is also offering a certificate of authenticity, lest anyone doubt the accounts’ provenance. “I have no idea whether this is a first in art sales history,” the artist told artnet News in an email. “It would be depressing if it was.”

There is a history of artists, including notably Rafaël Rozendaal, selling websites to collectors for purchase. But transactions of social media handles more typically involve a celebrity who is willing to pay to own an account under their name.

The artist’s Instagram followers have been placing bids in the comments, but that won’t help them acquire the unique piece, which is being sold at a set price. “I determine the prices along with my galleries, taking production, labor, and spatial particularities into consideration,” Bader said.

The artist is no stranger to unorthodox media. He has previously created sculptures in the form of a stack of junk mail and a trio of live cats let loose inside a gallery. In 2015, he raised raised £10,322 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo and sold the sum at Christie’s with a certificate of authenticity. (He donated the proceeds of the sale to charity.)

The @mined_oud Twitter account, which has only nine followers, was created in August 2017, and the first post on Instagram, which has 1,875 followers, dates to October of that year. The former account is full of enigmatic excerpts of texts Bader is reading on the screen or on the page. On Instagram, he has collected photos of art, photos of himself in front of art, and bizarre juxtapositions only an artist could dream up.

It remains to be seen if the @mined_oud accounts will spark interest among collectors, but it’s worth noting that Bader was uncomfortable when asked if the new works might be part of a series. “Series is a word that would complicate my answer, so let me just say that I don’t intend to repeat myself nor make this some sort of ‘cottage industry,'” he said.


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