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November 28, 2002|Susan Carpenter

He has given everything he has for his art

Most of those in the crowd at John Freyer's book reading had bought something from him -- a vintage "Planet of the Apes" record, a beat-up red chair. The 29-year-old author of "All My Life for Sale" (Bloomsbury) had, after all, done exactly that -- sold everything he owned.

In a series of online auctions that began in August 2000 and ended a year later, Freyer relieved himself of more than 600 items ranging from the mundane (a can of soup) to the quirky (his answering-machine tape) to the downright bizarre (a pair of used false teeth and a bag of shaved-off sideburns). His total take: $4,906.52.

There are more time- and cost-efficient means of ridding oneself of materialistic possessions, but Freyer is an artist. Sure, he wanted to get rid of some stuff; but once he did, he realized he was also interested in finding out where that stuff was going.

When he shipped what he sold, he also sent along notes asking that the buyers send him pictures. When they did, he started inviting himself over to visit.

In his computer slide show at Book Soup recently, Freyer shared stories and showed pictures of many of his former possessions -- and their new owners.

Among them was a man wearing Freyer's blue work jacket, a mother and daughter with his saltshaker, and his girlfriend, Sasha, to whom he sold a table and with whom he now lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

The night ended with a live auction of a T-shirt Freyer had made. On its front was a homemade iron-on of one of the items he'd sold: a canned Danish ham. It went for $20.

-- Susan Carpenter

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