The Potato Proxy


Have you heard the one about the picture of a potato selling for $1M? The artist, Kevin Abosch, says the picture is an “ontological [philosophical] study of the human experience.”

I see commonalities between humans and potatoes that speak to our relationship as individuals within a collective species,” Abosch told CNN. “Generally, the life of a harvested potato is violent and taken for granted. I use the potato as a proxy for the ontological study of the human experience.” Epoch Newsroom. (2016, February 2). Potato Photo Sells for More Than $1M: Reports. Retrieved February 04, 2016, from


This is clearly a man capable of deep thinking. I get it. I really do. I also see its sale, the sale of a picture of an ordinary potato, for $1M as an ontological study as well. I don’t mean to vilify the person who bought this picture for that amount of money or the artist who sold it. It is entirely possible they each donate an obscene amount of money to worthy causes. Clearly the abysmal state of some of our fellow humans speaks to them or they would not have thought to take the photograph or had an interest in buying it. It’s just the idea of all that money going to a picture instead of the proxy it is supposed to represent. Let’s be clear, I have always had feelings like this. When I toured the Tower of London at 14-15 years old I was left feeling sick to my stomach. I vividly remember seeing a giant gold and jeweled punch bowl with a golden ladle that required the strength of more than one human being to serve its beverage contents. All I could think was, “Why?!?!” Why not melt that opulence down and serve a few million starving people food? I don’t get it and maybe that’s why I will never be rich.

Ten things you can buy with a million dollars:

  • 10 high-end Habitat for Humanity houses
  • 45 new schools from World Vision
  • 66 deep wells and hand pumps (2,800 gallons of safe drinking water every day for 300 people) from World Vision
  • 7,000 pairs of glasses through Toms One for One program (one donated for every pair purchased)
  • 18,000 pairs of shoes through Toms One for One program (one donated for every pair purchased)
  • 20,000 antibiotic kits from Save the Children
  • 47, 619 family mosquito nets from World Vision
  • 20,000-50,000 symbolic adoptions of endangered species animals from the National Wildlife Foundation
  • 333,333-100,000 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation
  • 11 million meals through Feeding America’s food banks

That being said, I do have a sense of humor and I am willing to put money where the potato is. Therefore, bidding is now open for an alternate interpretation of the potato/human experience. I call it, “The Potato Sustains.” Should someone bid upon this picture, I pledge to invest/donate the proceeds as follows*:

  • 20% to a charity of the buyer’s choice
  • 20% to art school/art camp scholarships
  • 30% to food/anti-hunger charity
  • 30% to college education savings for my children (three kids, 10% each)

*Depending upon the bid amount, I am willing to negotiate the charitable recipients with the buyer. I will throw in a bottle of wine for free if the bidding goes to $1M!  

Now, if you will excuse me, for some reason I am craving a potato. 😉

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