Jennifer Dalton

The Appraisal

1999

Mixed media

Dimensions variable

The Appraisal originates in the artist’s experience of working for several years at an international auction house. Inspired by witnessing daily the process by which value is ascribed to art and other objects, Dalton attempts to pin down the ethereal concepts of personal “meaning” and “value” by cataloguing and placing a monetary value on every object that she owns—not as a professional appraiser, but as an artist.

Dalton uses a Fair Market Value appraisal of the contents of her apartment conducted by Christie’s as a starting point. In contrast to their brief and low-value official document, she has created a more detailed and personal appraisal of virtually every single item in her possession. Over 70 pages long and accompanied by 300 snapshot photographs of every item in her apartment, The Appraisal is an atlas of an artist’s humble life. Everything has been listed, described and photographed for reference—from books written by ex-boyfriends to the results of over ten years of her work as a visual artist to three exceptionally large and fluffy housecats. Dalton’s descriptions don’t stop at the merely physical, she also details the provenance—or origin—of every item she describes, tracing the path of personal belongings as they have changed hands, making their inevitable way toward her Brooklyn apartment.

To take her investigation of the value of objects full-circle, Dalton is offering a selection of her belongings for sale on the web auction site eBay (www.ebay.com). The bidding process will determine the items’ “true” value, since the dollar amount that the bidding reaches will constitute how much money an actual buyer is willing to exchange for each object. Viewers can also view the entire project online.

The Appraisal is a self-portrait by possessions, exploring our culture’s equation of personal worth with the ownership of socially meaningful objects, clothing and furniture. This project explores the limits of what can be learned about a person by examining his or her belongings, while at the same time indulging—literally—our very human inclination to peer into each others’ closets, bookshelves and medicine cabinets.


ref: jd1999-001

Jennifer Dalton

The Appraisal

The Appraisal

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