Still from Tits on Tits on Ikea (2013, cropped) by Angela Washko
Blink, and you may have missed it. No really. While the New York Armory Show celebrated its 100th birthday over the weekend, a smaller event down the waterfront called the Moving Image Contemporary Video Art Fair just sold what could be the shortest piece of video art ever purchased—a six-second video made on Vine, Twitter’s new video capture service.
The work in question, reports the Guardian, is Tits on Tits on Ikea (2013), by artist Angela Washko—an absurdist little video of a young woman holding a laptop to her chest that depicts a pair of hands rubbing two pink balloons like a pair of cartoonish breasts. As implied by the title, she’s sitting on what appears to be an IKEA couch, surrounded by other IKEA furniture, and is wearing a coonskin cap. The piece sold for $200.
Tits on Tits on Ikea, Angela Washko, 2013.
The concept of selling a piece of Vine art was the brain child of Marina Galperina, art editor of ANIMALNewYork, and Kyle Chayka, senior editor at the art blog, Hyperallergic, who curated a site-specific installation of Vine-based art for the Moving Image fair called “The Shortest Video Art Ever Sold" (SVAES). The project was rooted in an online competition created by ANIMAL called the #VeryShortFilmFest, a competition for which all comers (pun intended, see below) were asked to submit their entries by appending the eponymous hashtag.
Washko’s video—which, having sold, represents the fruition of the SVAES's goals—is, in fact, a conceptual spin-off of her submission to the #VeryShortFilmFest, Boob Job (2013) —a grainy, surrealistic kaleidoscope of several heavily made-up women in high society luncheon dress, garishly rubbing pink balloons on their chests like bored strippers doing a warm-up lap. ANIMAL put together an online interactive wall of the some of the best submissions, here (NSFW), but be warned, several are very explicit. The winning submission, Untitled (2013, NSFW), by Laura McMillian, features a woman in bondage leather wearing a college mascot-sized dog’s mask masturbating a fake penis.
Still from Boob Job (2013) by Angela Washko
The sale of Washko’s work provoked the expected philistine backlash. (“This is the part where we fully admit we don’t really ‘get’ art,” writes Betabeat.) But the sale—and the very concept of salable, Vine-based video art—makes a few complex statements with regard to the current state of art and technology.
The lewdness of many of the submissions to the #VeryShortFilmFest was perhaps inevitable, but also encouraged as a comment on what Vine quickly became—an outlet for spontaneous, ephemeral creativity, but also for porn. Lots of porn. Within weeks of launching Vine, Twitter imposed a restriction that required users to verify they are at least 17 years old before downloading the app. “We here at ANIMAL took action immediately,” wrote ANIMALS editors when they launched their competition, “for no hot social media app should be slut-shamed like that.”
Selling a piece of Vine work demanded some logistical challenges that call into question the very nature of ownership in the digital age—what it means to create, buy, and sell in public. As the Guardian reports, Galperina and Chayka were compelled to create a hack to spring Vine videos from their platform, just to be able to sell them. The Vines were installed on USB drives so prospective buyers could buy them with some degree of exclusivity. Dutch collector and curator Myriam Vanneschi bought the video and has already re-uploaded it to Vine.
“I liked it,” Vanneschi told the Guardian when asked about her reasons for buying Tits on Tits. “It represents an alternative model to the gallery system. When art becomes solely a commodity, I find it very uninteresting, but I see buying internet-based art as very interesting, as an alternative.”