Project 2: The Archive – Question for Seller Exercise

Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and allows for a new dialogue. Reflect on:

  • Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images 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 are now ‘art’?

The challenge for me in the first question is the word ‘elevated’ that in some way implies that the images have become more important and as a result have a heightened status.  I think the gallery context does give them a different status as they enter into the institution and the wider art market. They may have acquired a new value financially but this may not compare with their emotional value in terms of their original owners.

The meaning of the images is derived from both their past and present. In some cases it is drawn from what is known of the provenance of the images, this is then layered with any memories and nostalgia the viewer may project onto them. Finally, the presence on the gallery wall and interpretative materials adds a third layer of meaning in terms of how the viewer interacts with them.

My response to the final question is in part reflected in my answer to the first. I think their financial value is changed through the intervention of the artist and their entry into the gallery system. I also think that the fact that the sale was an interactive part of the exhibition and participants could see how the auction was unfolding may have had an impact on the value. It is possible, in my mind, that people participating in bidding who might not otherwise have done so had they appeared on eBay some time later. So for me there is also a psycho-social element that may have increased their value as well as their new status as ‘art’.