"By its nature the Garage Sale cannot be a historical work because commerce is always located in the present."—Martha Rosler
The 'Garage Sale' was a multimedia installation and performance by Martha Rosler held in the Art Gallery of the University of California, San Diego in 1973. For more than 40 years, Rosler has made “art about the commonplace, art that illuminates social life,” examining the everyday through photography, performance, video, and installation.
In 1973, this work was titled 'Garage Sale' and was advertised in local newspapers as an art event within the local art scene. Clothes, books, records, toys, costume jewelry, personal letters, art works, and other mementos, as well as soft-core pornographic magazines and empty welfare-food containers were displayed on racks and tables for visitors to browse and buy, after haggling with the artist over the price. Rosler’s Garage Sale implicates visitors in face-to-face transactions within a secondary, informal cash economy—exactly like garage sales held outside the museum setting.
The project has since 1973 travelled in divergent international venues.
The newest iteration of this project, the Meta-Monumental Garage Sale, will fill MoMA’s Marron Atrium with activity, turning it into a space for the exchange of goods, narratives, and ideas. As in the Garage Sale’s initial manifestation, Rosler will perform on a daily basis throughout the Sale. Components from San Diego, including the slide show and the audio track, as well as select “merchandise” from several previous Garage Sales are also part of the installation, representing traces of where the project has been held.
The artist’s photographs of visitors to some of those earlier sales will be displayed alongside photographs of customers posing, with their new acquisitions, for a professional wedding photographer. The Meta-Monumental Garage Sale will last for two weeks, with every day a new exhibition.