Exercise 5.2 – Questions for seller (P.120)

Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and in so doing allows for
a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following in your learning log:
• Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?
• Where does their meaning derive from?
• When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their
value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?

Objectively displaying these images on a gallery wall does not change their status, whatever merit they have does not change whether they are displayed in a family album or in a gallery. However, if changing the context of an image can also impact on the narrative then I think it can be argued that by changing the context, i.e. displaying the images in a galley, it is possible to change the status of an image. Whilst it may not change a viewer’s appreciation of an image, by displaying them in a gallery they have a third party endorsement and I think that for some people this changes their status. The counter argument is that the status of a piece of art is dictated by the perception of its quality of the emotional engaement of a viewer and that this does not change regardless of where it is dislayed. I know from my own experience that I was no more engaged with images by Diane Arbus when I saw them in a gallery than when I viewed them on screen.

• Where does their meaning derive from?

I think the meaning of the images differs depending on whether the individual is a creator of the images or a viewer and what stage of their chronolgy they are being viewed. Many of the photographs appear to be portraits, some formal, probably taken by a professional photographer, and others informal most likely taken by a family member. I think the meaning of these were primarily as a momento of a a person or a time and place, a very common practice during the 20th century. For the artist, Nicky Bird, the meaning was different, she explains in the video recording of the sale of the works after her exhibition in Belfast that she was interested in the juxtaposition of someone’s personal history being for sale and being sold at such low prices. I think the meaning for the gallery visitor is slghtly different, they may view them in the same context as Nicky Bird, questioning the price or cheapness of these people’s personal histories, or they may simply wonder who where these people, what were their lives like, why were the people in the images significant to someone else?

When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their
value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

In the video of the aution of the works at the end of the exhibition we see some people bidding and my impression is that the value of the images has increased. By purchasing, presenting and in some cases possibly preserving the iamges, Bird has shown them to be of value. In presenting these images as artworks and using them to ask questions about personal history and value Bird he encouraged viewers and buyer to reappraise the value of the images and this would have most likely resulted in their value increasing.

Sources

Nickybirdcom. 2019. Nickybirdcom. [Online]. [7 July 2019]. Available from: https://nickybird.com/projects/question-for-seller-2/

Vimeocom. 2019. Vimeo. [Online]. [7 July 2019]. Available from: https://vimeo.com/249647299

Seesawmagazinecom. 2019. Seesawmagazinecom. [Online]. [7 July 2019]. Available from: http://www.seesawmagazine.com/sellerpages/sellerintro.html

WordPresscom. 2013. Photoparley. [Online]. [7 July 2019]. Available from: https://photoparley.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/nicky-bird/

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