Jennifer Dalton, The Reappraisal
Thu Apr 30 2009
Photograph: Courtesy Winkleman Gallery
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
With diligence and wit, Jennifer Dalton’s data-obsessed work explores class and gender disparities in the art world, usually from an autobiographical viewpoint. Like Mark Lombardi’s elaborate conspiracy maps and Danica Phelps’s daily activity logs, the information Dalton assembles is copious and detailed, involving long lists, pie charts and color-coded schemes to make sense of it all.
Her latest installation, The Reappraisal, revisits a 10-year-old work, The Appraisal, in which Christie’s auction house assessed the monetary value of the artist’s "estate." After Dalton tirelessly photographed and cataloged every object in her home, from pencils and cleaning supplies to family heirlooms, Christie’s assigned a sum total of a mere $11,290 in 1999. The artist’s estimate? $42,607. More humbling still is the fact that most of the discrepancy lay in the value of Dalton’s art.
A married homeowner and mother now, Dalton’s overall worth has predictably increased, as has the worth of her art. The Reappraisal makes these changes clear. Organized on 5" x 7" cards under images of each assessed item, the values Christie’s assigned then and now can be seen alongside the artist’s valuations. But there is a new, more nebulous factor structuring the work: emotional value.
Beginning with an unfinished artwork Dalton pegs at $500,000, and ending with an Ikea chair she says is worth $5, the 545 items between tell a story of personal attachment that defies monetary logic. Intriguing, funny and entirely subjective, the results remind us that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure: an adage, if ever there was one, for these trying times.—Jane Harris