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TGN 2001

2001, Ebay yearlong web-based performance and mixed media project in which the artist INVENTORIED EVERY OBJECT in his Brooklyn studio/apartment from January 1 - December 31. 


Looking at the structural similarities of the art world and Ebay, Nguyen's TGN 2001 was a pioneering web art project that treated his belongings as  an institution or  Christie's would - doing a condition report on the work, obtaining provenance, taking pictures, providing captions, etc. However, the audience and collector base are totally different.  TGN 2001 looked also at how everyday, maybe even useless, objects obtained rarefied status when vacuumed into an art context. To regular "Ebayers" who were just looking for deals, this notion didn't apply, and the artist never revealed to them that it was an art project. However, in February of that year, the New York Times published an article about artists exploring the possibilities of the worldwide web in its infancy stages, and Nguyen's project was highlighted as an exemplar. The article created a "rush" of new Ebayers who were actually art world insiders or enthusiasts seeking out Nguyen's auctions as potential art pieces. Thus anything from a used roll of scotch tape to family photo albums were bid on. 


In addition to its autobiographical component –what do the things that you own say about you?TGN 2001 delve deeper into the latent possibilities of the Ebay structure. For example, Nguyen would incorporate such things as gratuitous poetry and short stories into the auction descriptions, embed audio files from a Cat Power concert, offer conceptual items such as "nothingness" and "friends' secrets", and so on. The artist also took a daily photograph with his digital camera that was uploaded and auctioned off the same evening (365 photographs in all).


Nguyen combined all his items variously into a symbolic number of 1001 auctions total. His thousand and one nights was also a form of anxious storytelling, where every auction acted as a subjective witness, journaling personal life and scenes from the mundane to the iconic - an image of the World Trade Centers smoking on 9/11 was immediately removed by Ebay, for example, and had to be replaced with a less dramatic picture of a blood donation line in midtown Manhattan.


At the end of the year, about 5-10% of the total auctions found bidders, and the items are now scattered around the world. It wasn't about selling things, but rather doing a full inventory of possessions.

Nearly a decade later, Nguyen begun to consider the "wrap up" and eventual display of the project. At the end of each auction, Ebay provided a summary sheet of each auction's details - item description and photos, number of bidders, starting and ending prices, viewed times, and so on. Nguyen took a screenshot of all these auction summaries and organized them by month into 12 encyclopedic volumes.


The project in its entirety has never been exhibited, and the artist's intention is to one day display each volume with the unsold daily photographs corresponding to its month, arranged in a calendar format on the wall.

New York Times

View each published volume of monthlong auctions:

Ebay TGN 2001 Announcement Card

E-card for the TGN 2001 project

Screenshot of the conceptual website by Moritz Gaede, which hosted a portal to the TGN 2001 project on Ebay

LEFT: Self-published 12 volumes of auction results for the TGN 2001 project. 

RIGHT: Sample exhibit of January volume plus the photographic auctions that went unsold from that month.

Mock layout of TGN 2001 exhibition, in which each of the twelve volumes will be shown with the daily photographs (that did not sell) arranged in a calendar format. 

DETAIL of January volume with an auction of a Damien Hirst announcement card that sold for $63


DETAIL of an auction record from the June volume.


DETAIL of an auction record for a daily photograph from the February volume.


DETAIL of an auction record for an undeveloped roll of shot film from the February volume.

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