About PWC

Update: November 20th, 2008

A project by Joachim Blank, Gerrit Gohlke and Karl Heinz Jeron

The 1st Public White Cube (PWC) is an attempt to produce interaction by economic means. In a series of auctions, the audience will be granted an opportunity to make a material change to an existing work of art and its exhibition situation. The auctions will take place via the Internet auction platform Ebay®.


The project was realised for the first time in Berlin, in September 2001. Here, the exhibition was located in the project space of a gallery at the centre of what was the most economically successful Berlin gallery district at that time. The artists exhibited were Adib Fricke, Peter Friedl and Torsten Hattenkerl. Numerous artists and non-artists from Germany, Europe and the USA took part in the auctions.

Period of realisation

The PWC 1st Public White Cube will continue in San Francisco in the beginning of November 2008. This phase of the project will go on until February 2009. Place of realisation The exhibition location in the project phase 2008/2009 will be the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – www.sfmoma.org

Exhibited artists

10lb Ape and Ledia Caroll will be participating in the PWC 1st Public White Cube in San Francisco; each artist‘s work will be exhibited for a period of six weeks, during which time it will be subject to alteration by the audience.

Exhibition situation

The PWC 1st Public White Cube in the SFMOMA will be embedded in a group exhibition situation. Visitors can enter the space, and using camera surveillance, it will also be made accessible to the public on the Internet.

Public participation

The public will be able to influence the exhibition shown up to seven times during each of the two exhibition periods of six weeks. Visitors can purchase the right to influence the exhibition by bidding in a total of up to seven Ebay® auctions. Starting out from the current exhibition situation, the winner of the auction will be permitted to add, remove or conceal objects, and to manipulate the space together with its artworks at his discretion. The only condition is that any work originally placed in the space by the exhibiting artist may not be removed completely. Otherwise, the shape and means of his intervention remain entirely in the hands of the successful bidder. Interaction here is a physical act that may be irreversible. The audience‘s participation has real consequences. Documentation The starting situation and all the changes in the PWC 1st Public White Cube will be documented photographically and made accessible on the Internet within 48 hours.


1. Surely the auctions are expensive?

Doesn‘t the procedure hamper the creativity of less well-off bidders? In our experience, the sum with which a bidder wins at auction varies a lot and depends on the number of bidders and their financial possibilities. Every auction begins with a minimum bid of only one dollar. The number of bidders and the frequency and speed of the bids in the closing phase of the auction also reflect the audience‘s attention span. As with every auction on the art market, the participants in the strongest financial position will assert themselves in this process. The PWC 1st Public White Cube thus reflects the economic conventions of the art business as well. The project expressly avoids making the „creative competence“ of bidders into the measure of their right to alter the exhibition, but employs the unrestricted mechanisms of the market as a criterion for exercising influence on art and ideas.

2. How does one take part in the auctions?

All the auctions are accessible to everyone who has a valid Ebay® account. The Ebay® account is free of charge. As usual, the Ebay® fees are paid by the seller; in this case PWC 1st Public White Cube. All the auctions are accessible on both the project website and via Ebay® search engines. In all probability, Ebay® will highlight the auctions, thus making the project known to circles of bidders with no particular affinity to the arts.

3. What happens immediately after an auction?

At the end of each auction, the highest bidder is automatically informed of his/her win. The successful bidder informs the project personnel of the alteration that he would like to realize. The museum needs to agree to the proposal prior to the realization by the bidder during working hours each Wednesday when the museum is closed. Directly after the realization, the alteration is documented and described online. Subsequently, the new state of the exhibition is put up for bidding again in a new auction, and so on until the exhibition period comes to an end.

4. Does the bidder have to come to the exhibition space?

The audience can intervene online world-wide. It is possible to view the alterations in the SFMOMA during opening times, and also to bid there. Nonetheless the PWC and SFMOMA encourage bidders from all over the world to participate. This occurs under the condition that the alterations demanded by the bidding proposal can be realized within one day, with reasonable efforts, and that additional costs for materials or the installation crew are covered by the bidder.

5. How long does it take before a successfully purchased alteration is completed?

Around 24 hours. The time may vary in individual cases.

6. Can the exhibited artist exercise a veto?

The artist has no right to veto. An alteration will be realised unless it is immoral, offends other people‘s sensibilities or violates the business conditions, which are adapted for every exhibition and constitute the only applicable basis for the deal. Once PWC 1st Public White Cube and the artist have agreed on the relevant exhibition conditions, these remain valid and will not be changed until the exhibition is over.

7. Conditions

In placing your bid, you agree to certain conditions of installation at SFMOMA, as listed below. SFMOMA will endeavor to accommodate your proposal but cannot guarantee any installation which conflicts with these conditions.

Certain materials are not permitted in SFMOMA’s galleries. These include: liquid of any kind, hazardous material, heavy equipment, chemicals, some organic materials, food, live animals/ insects/ bugs, and bodily fluids. Another condition of this artistic project is that any content placed within the gallery by previous artists and bidders cannot be removed. However, any content inside can be altered, therefore, SFMOMA and its agents are not responsible or liable for any damage to or destruction of your installation. If the winning bidder installs, he or she will work in a gallery room that is part of the exhibition The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now. In order to protect surrounding art, the winning bidder must not cause excessive wall vibration, drill through walls, or use materials that create large amounts of dust or debris.

If an installation proposal conflicts with the conditions above, SFMOMA reserves the right to refuse it and instead will suggest alterations in order to make the installation possible.