|New York (September 14) – 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 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.
Watch a video of Dread Scott discussing White Male for Sale.