Quality Control

2 person exhibition, Site Gallery, 2001

An exhibition about value & uniqueness and the means and context in which we make value judgements. In the centre of the gallery is a machine which shreds snapshot photographs (for which there are no negatives) unless they are saved by a viewer placing their hand on a plaque. In order to avoid destruction the photos must have value ascribed to them by the viewer.

The sculpture provides an alternative to the kinds of visual decisions usually permissible in an art gallery, with regard to the viewing of artworks. …Expressing what they like or dislike, they are in a position of choice, with the power to be active or passive, saving the images or allowing them to be shredded. The participant’s intuitive decision to stop the shredding of the images, to save a particular photo for aesthetic, subjective or ethical reasons, is a personal statement of significant and irrevocable consequence, as is their alternate decision to ignore the process they are witnessing and do nothing.’ (Max Dean statement Venice Biennale Catalogue 1999)

Stephanie Bolt’s large scale photographs are the result of her requesting objects which had failed the Quality Control procedures of various manufacturers. The objects are photocopied and then photographed and exhibited with the letters sent by the manufacturers which detail why they were deemed imperfect and were not ascribed value. ‘From the objects contributed I wanted to generate a piece that played off the visual representation and invested value into that which was valueless – concomitantly pricking at the vested snobbery in traditional approaches to photography by reproducing pieces in a manner which quite literally went against the grain.’

The exhibition counterpoints the processes of aesthetic choice and value ascription – with the wall-mounted, gallery-scale photographs it is a choice which has no immediate effect – the viewer may like or dislike an image but that decision does not affect the fate of the image as it does with Max Dean’s machine. In both cases the process is one of re-investing value into items usually deemed valueless and questioning the role of context in ascribing value.

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