You Ain't Wrong at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery 

Artist William Boling probes eBay's consumer culture

When digital artist Keith Obadike attempted to sell his blackness to the highest bidder in a 2001 eBay auction, site officials threw a conniption and canceled the sale. Spoilsports. But that hasn't stopped a parade of post-Obadike artists from rummaging through eBay's massive virtual flea market with grand artistic intentions.

Atlanta-based William Boling's You Ain't Wrong at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery is the latest such foray into the underworld of person-to-person online commerce, and the effects are appropriately quirky.

The bulk of the exhibit comprises some 100 odd digital images extracted from random auction postings on eBay and its New Zealand counterpart TradeMe. And "odd" is the word. Photographed items include a pair of deer forelimbs, a mini cement mixer and various doll parts. Lots and lots of doll parts.

Boling pairs the images in uncanny, sometimes disturbing ways, to create a series of nimble diptychs. The digitally produced prints vary in scale from a few inches to several feet across. A hatchet head butts up against a male doll's forearm. A cascade of blond hair meets an impressive set of buck antlers – two crowning glories in a single frame. Boling's visual splices mine the subconscious of capitalism. Each work is part of a parade of objects yoked together linguistically by metaphor, simile and counterpoint.

As we make the sometimes ludicrous connections between dissimilar objects, You Ain't Wrong reveals the strange leaps required to transform the intimate evidence of our living into so many exchangeable commodities. Where Atlanta artists Charles Huntley Nelson and Anita Arliss have examined the flattening effect of the Internet on our personhood, Boling concentrates on what it does to our things.

Art exhibitions of artless objects throw more light back on their context than on whatever's in the frame or on the pedestal. That's what they're designed to do. (Duchamp's urinal – a foundational work of Dada art – forced everyone to rethink not so much the urinal as the art world around it.) It speaks well for Hagedorn that Boling's exhibit of such irreducible weirdness should land in the heart of Buckhead, home to profusions of idea-proof, decorative niceties. Moreover, You Ain't Wrong issues a significant challenge to an entire art-world subculture and the assumptions it holds dear.


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