Revolutionary Artist Dread Scott Creates First Video and Performance Art NFT: White Male for Sale
A still image from White Male for Sale video and performance art NFT
DREAD SCOTT (B. 1965)
White Male for Sale
Conceived in 2021 and minted on 13 September 2021.
New York - On October 1, following the September opening of We’re Going to End Slavery. Join Us!, Dread Scott’s first solo gallery exhibition in more than 20 years, Cristin Tierney Gallery and Christie’s announce the auction of the artist’s new conceptual NFT project, White Male for Sale. This new digital project harnesses the artistic medium of the moment – the NFT – to deliver a powerful visual statement from within the context of a live auction. The NFT, which is linked to a perpetually looped 00:01:10 minute video of a white male standing on an auction block, will be featured within Christie’s Post-War to Present sale on October 1 in New York. The final act of selling the NFT at auction will complete the performance of Scott’s conceptual work.
Scott’s innovative NFT makes the medium itself an inherent and essential part of his conceptual project. The artist was initially inspired to create White Male for Sale by the meaning of NFT: Non-Fungible Token. As the artist explains, “The term fungible resonated differently for me due to its use by scholars of the history of slavery. People are inherently non-fungible. But as slavery became an integral part of developing capitalism, enslavers sought to make people fungible.”
Throughout the 16th to 18th centuries the Portuguese and Spanish used a system called Pieza de India ("piece of India”) through which people were quantified and valued in relation to an idealized slave—or a “piece of India.” Later, in the ledgers of 18th to 19th century American enslavers, people are often referred to as No. 1 slaves, No. 2 slaves, etc.—a means by which unique people could be dehumanized and compared to others, and thus turned into human commodities. For example, a 35-year-old male carpenter could be equated to a 20-year-old, possibly unskilled woman with two children.
White Male for Sale takes this history as a point of departure. During much of the history of America, enslaved people were sold at auction. Frequently these auctions would take place on a street corner, with advertisements announcing the sale. The enslaved person would be made to stand on a block as they were auctioned.
The video of White Male for Sale is a slow motion shot of a nondescript white male in a typical middle-class work shirt and pants. He stands relatively motionless on an auction block as the residents of a predominately Black Brooklyn neighborhood pass by, going about their day without acknowledging him. The video seamlessly loops; the auction goes on in perpetuity, questioning the intertwined history of slavery, capitalism, and the ideology of white supremacy. To extend the conceptual project and provide a global platform for this powerful conceptual work, the artist has partnered with Christie’s to feature the NFT within its first major contemporary art sale of the fall season, and place it within the context of a live auction.
Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).
Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).
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Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats.
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