Could you sell every possession you own?
Aaron Moore, artist and aid worker, is selling every single item he owns to raise money to help African children.
Sydney artist and aid worker, Aaron Moore, is about to start the auction of his life. On Tuesday evening, the 34-year-old plans to sell everything he owns and give all the proceeds to the non-for-profit organisation for which he works, Global Concern.
Whether or not people will want his undies (clean, he assures me), is questionable, but other items, including a near-new motorbike, his surfboard, laptop and iPhone, are sure to generate interest. His artwork is up for a silent auction and he is even auctioning off his room for the duration of the show. There won't be a bed (that, of course, is going too) but, the lucky recipient will have to share with his flatmates, "two good-looking fellas, which might be a selling point" and they will have "direct water views."
It's also for a good cause. Around 8 million people a year die of preventable illness due to poverty, according to the UN and, in Aaron's line of work, which has taken him to hotspots such as Malawi and Zambia, he has witnessed far too much of this first hand.
"You get used to seeing those kinds of things happen," he says, relating a story of a child in Africa, whose death from malaria could have been prevented with a $10 mosquito net. "Then at the end of three weeks work I get to go and bungy jump off Victoria Falls for a hundred dollars."
This inequality made him question himself and his obligation to the wider community. "Basically, the exhibition ... is challenging some of the responsibility we have to the poor."
He takes his inspiration from Australian philosopher and activist, Peter Singer, who posed an ethical challenge in his seminal essay, Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Singer said that if you passed a drowning child, your obligation to save them would far outweigh the expense of replacing the (theoretical) new clothes you would wreck in the process. The extension of that thought was that there are many dying children whose lives could be saved for the cost of a pair of shoes.
"It's something I'm trying to explore personally," Moore says. There are some items he will find painful to part with, such as the watch his grandfather gave his father as a university graduation present. Aaron's father then passed it down the line to him, when he was a child. "But, to who do I owe greater responsibility?" he asks. "My father or to the poor people whose lives could be saved?"
Giving up your worldly goods is not a new concept. In 2001, London installation artist, Michael Landy, famously shred and ground all 7,006 of his belongings as a protest against consumerism.
And, for centuries, ascetics from various religions have renounced their material possessions to pursue their spiritual goals. But, Moore insists he is just an ordinary bloke.
"I struggle with this," he says. "The last few days have been much harder than I thought they would be... I'm in no way a saint or a monk. I've tried to get out of putting some things up [for auction]. Dumb things - like a coin collection my father gave me as a young boy.
"I add to it... I've been to about 40 countries and collect coins as my momento of each place." He'd decided to keep the whole collection at his dad's house and say it wasn't his - before the guilt set in. So the coins, the watch (which his father intends to buy back), the undies and the artworks - along with everything else he owns - will go on sale.
He insists he's no martyr and that his material-free status will not last for long. "My pay will come into my account the following week and ... I'll start again," he says. In the meantime, he hopes to raise enough money to save a few drowning children. "To me, it's important not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk."
One Thing You Lack launches tonight at 5pm, Kudos Gallery in Paddington. The auction will run until Sunday.