You would imagine her bare hands, reaching down, recovering that thing, that had been dozing in the deep dark bowels of the earth. Her dusty fingers touching it, turning it. And her surprise, as the agate goede – once cut open – responded her incredulous gaze with a smile that would last forever… This, however, is not how Lindsay Lawson (b. 1982) found The Smiling Rock. Instead, the artist trawled the outer limits of eBay for things that defy classification: objects listed in the category “everything else”. In the 1920s (an early heyday of modern department stores) the Surrealists had haunted the flea markets of Paris for the sake of the subversive potential of their disorderly, coincidental arrangements.
Today’s online marketplaces accredit every item with a set of classificatory metadata – hence eliminating chance from the equation. eBay’s spurious category “everything else”, though, provides a loophole within this rigid structure. Lawson kept The Smiling Rock in her watch list for three years. She made several offers, all of which were rejected. Developing a strange infatuation, she researched everything there was to find out about the rock, it’s seller, and ‘objectophilia’ (falling in love with objects). She wrote short stories and made a film. Time and again Lawson has explored our relationship to objects – and the ways in which
we assign them with irrational value and significance. Until today, The Smiling Rock resides in the midst of eBay’s trash and treasures, priced at $1.000.000.