Question for Seller


Question for Seller originated from my interest in family photographs that appear on eBay. I purchased photographs that no-one else bid for, with the connotation that they were unwanted, and therefore with no significant value. The seller was approached with the question – How did you come across the photos and what, if anything, do you know about them? Their replies, however brief, are as important as the photographs they are selling – sometimes alluding to a part of a discarded family history, or the everyday, where personal photographs have long since lost their original meaning.

Question for Seller, 2006

20 lots of vernacular photographs
Various sizes, dates, locations with accompanying captions
Displayed on gallery walls and central table
1 flash animated digital photo album Question for You displayed on Apple Mac
Unique oversize album with 87 photographs c.1910-1970, Wild Pansy Press
Live Auction closing night, 1 February 2007

Everything Must Go: Question for Seller at Belfast Exposed, 2006-2007

Question for Seller was finally auctioned off, both as an exhibition and as an artist’s bookwork, at Belfast Exposed on Thursday 1st February 2007. At 7pm the exhibition, which comprised of photographs purchased off eBay, were sold as lots starting from 99p to the highest bidder. At 8pm online bidding closed for the unique ‘family album’ – which had been on show in the gallery since 4th December 2006 – and on eBay from 23rd January 2007. The closing eBay auction was broadcast on the night and the event gave everyone a chance to take an artwork home with them at the end of the night. Question for Seller enabled the audience to purchase, participate, and engage with two questions: what is our relationship to the past, and what is the value we ascribe to it?

A clip of the Auction night is featured here

Question for Seller, Closing Live Auction Event, Belfast Exposed, 1 February 2007 from Nicky Bird on Vimeo.

Related Essays, Reviews, Interviews and Artist writings

Nedkova, I. ‘Nicky Bird: Behind the Screens‘ in Artists’ Residencies 2003/4,
Edinburgh: Stills, 2004, ISBN 0 906458 34 p.10-11

Darke, C. ‘Memories of Happy Times: Nicky Bird, Question for Seller,’
Source, Issue No: 50, 72-73, 2007, ISSN 1369-2224

Seesaw: Online Photography Magazine Issue 8 Summer 2007

The Scotsman 5 September 2008
The List 4 September 2008

Photoparley Interview with Nicky Bird by Sharon Boothroyd, 2013

Bird, Nicky. ‘Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Generosity and the Digital Exchange of Family Photographs,’ in J. Carson, R. Miller and T. Wilkie (eds), The Photograph and the Album: Histories, Practices, Futures, 372-401, Edinburgh, UK & Cambridge, USA: MuseumsEtc, 2013. ISBN 978-1-907697-91-3

More about the project Question for Seller from exhibition to eBay auction

Featured in Seesaw: Online Photography Magazine Issue 8 Summer 2007

Bird, Nicky. ‘Wanted – New Custodians for Family Photographs: Vernacular Photographs on eBay and the Album as Artwork,’ in S. Arnold de Simine and J.Leal (eds), 171-188, Picturing the Family: Media, Narrative, Memory. Bloomsbury, London, 2018. ISBN 9781474283632

Other Related Artwork

Gay Interest Beefcake, 2008