What’s it worth ?
Recently a Documentary movie did the rounds about Vivian Maier.
A woman photographer from the US. who never published, exhibited or even developed many of the pictures she took.
When a trunk containing her negatives and undeveloped film reels was bought at auction they were quickly recognised as being hugely important and a lot of money has been made from the sale of her work. Movie stars and other Celebrities have bought prints at exhibitions and I even saw a book of her photos on sale in Waterstones yesterday.
Vivian Maier died in poverty in 2009. She seems to have been motivated by something other than money.
It’s been said that she wasn’t a “real photographer” because she didn’t exhibit her work. She earned her living as a Nanny for several families including the American TV chatshow host Phil Donahue.
There’s now a series of court cases trying to decide who should get the money from the sales of her pictures. Lawyers acting for The city of Chigago thinks they should get the money, the people who bought the negatives think that they should keep it all.
This brings up the question of value. What is something worth? Vivian Maier’s pictures haven’t changed, They were and are brilliant. Is something worth more because it costs more?
If an artist paints a picture of a tree falling over in the forest but no one buys it, is it still art?
People aren’t companies and companies aren’t people. Life isn’t a transaction or a market place. No matter what they tell us.