Along with the rise of different kinds of virtual-reality art has come a tough question: how can work in these mediums be sold?
Next October, Christie’s will attempt to set a new precedent by offering the first mixed-reality artwork at auction: Marina Abramović’s The Life, which will go to the block in London with an estimate of around $775,347. (The mixed-reality work differs from virtual reality in that the outside world is still visible to viewers, even with a headset on.) Initially shown at the Serpentine Galleries in London, the Abramović work could change the state of digital works at auction, according to representatives for Christie’s.
“As the technology around AR and VR evolves at an incredibly fast pace, the market is evolving and adapting to the demand,” Christie’s specialist Stefano Amoretti told the Art Newspaper. “Christie’s is in an avant-garde position by offering this to the market and we look forward to the response.”
The 19-minute piece received polarizing reviews when it premiered in February. The Evening Standard called it “radical” and “strangely riveting,” while Jonathon Jones of the Guardian wrote, “I’ve only experienced events this vacuous at really bad concerts.” In the artwork, Abramović, wearing the red dress from her famed 2010 performance The Artist is Present, appears to pace around viewers, occasionally flickering in and out of sight.
In an unusual move, the work will be sold directly from Abramović’s company and Tin Drum, the production studio that directed the film. According to Amoretti, there are three editions of the work and one artist’s proof. The buyer will receive the recording of the piece and “wearable spatial computing devices.” The Life will tour internationally ahead of the October auction, with dates and locations to be announced in the spring. The auction coincides with a retrospective of Abramović’s work that is scheduled to open next September at the Royal Academy in London.