Nicky Bird’s series Question for Seller was created when Bird purchased old family photos from eBay that no-one else had bid on. Once purchased, the questions posted to the seller were; “How did you come across the photos and what, if anything, do you know about them?”. Their replies were then used along with the photos in an exhibition.
Does their presence on a gallery wall gives these images an elevated status?
I think the fact that someone (Bird) has chosen to buy them in the first place gives them an elevated status. Many people would not regard their old family photos as being worthy to being put in an exhibition, they generally just mean something to the owner with regards to memories they encapsulate. By then placing them on a gallery wall, you could say this elevates their status, but because they are seen by more people than ‘normal’ family photographs.
Where does their meaning derive from?
The meaning of the photographs changes the moment they are put with the answer from the seller. Before this question is asked, these photographs capture a time whereby they were taken, the person(s) in them, and the person(s) taking the photograph. As soon as it is put with the response from the seller, they are almost simplifying their meaning by it being about where the seller found them, and the knowledge that they have surrounding the photographs.
Where they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact they are now ‘art’?
This is similar to the first question in that, it is all subjective to what people see as art. I do not think that their value should have increased, because other than the fact that they are in a gallery, and many people have seen them, they are ultimately the same photographs. The people who then purchased the photos may have felt that they were on a pedestal and because it had a famous name towards them, they are worth more.