Before the wide-spread use of coins, people used to barter goods. These days, we see barter happening again: hit by the crisis and the subsequent austerity rage, people start to exchange goods again or to exchange services (so, you teach me Spanish, and I clean-up your computer).
I too give a go at barter within the context of my project “In Gold We Trust”: during the Museum Night, I set up an Echange Office where where visitors can bring objects or raw materials. These will be processed into art objects in the weeks following the museum night. You can follow the process here on this blog under the category “Barter”.
These days, I see it everywhere: money is the most important thing in the world. Money is The New God. The pursuit to make profit at all cost goes before the people, before the environment, before ethics and common sense. Many of the actors who played a role in the melt-down of the US housing market perfectly knew what they were doing. Many of the actors playing on the Dutch scene just gambled their way to collapse. To which extent should we speculate to create money with money if we know it’s going to go wrong some day? It’s like collecting and selling the steel of your own boat and jump out to let it sink once you’ve made enough profit (and mostly once it became to dangerous to go further because there is never enough profit made…).
What value should we actually attribute to money? Money used to be a means for trading goods. Now money has become a goal in itself.
For the Museum Night, I made small hand-crafted ceramic coins that I will use to pay objects or raw materials. By using this alternative coins, I in fact go back to the origins of money. I make money physical again. I bring it back to what it was in the beginnings: a shell, a piece of metal or a piece of paper; something that gets a value by convention; something you give to get an object of real value; something you get in exchange of given goods; something you will give away again in an endless chain of buying and paying.
In the project ”In Gold We Trust” that I will present in part during the Museum Night, I explore the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis that started in 2008 as well as the practices that are wide-spread in the financial world. My motivation to do so comes from the fact that the financial world influences our lives a lot more than we thing and that their doings remain in general invisible. I also think that we take too many things for granted. For sure, I do. What happens behind closed doors and on computers at banks or at the stock exchanges is far from being harmless. Auto-regulation seems to have fail. In the US, intensive speculation on mortgages has led to the complete collapse of the housing market. In The Netherlands, banks had to be saved with taxpayer money and be nationalized. Why is that? Why should the profits be private and the losses public? Why should a commercial company that took too much risk be saved? If I follow the market logic, such a company only deserve to die. … But that is not the way it goes… Too big to fail…
We don’t hear much these days about financial institutions and the attempt at making the system safer. We don’t hear much about shadow banking, about bonuses, about speculation. After being in the spotlight for a little while, the financial world returned to darkness and to ”business as usual”. Almost all the mechanisms, practices and ideology that led to the crisis of 2008 are still in place. The Netherlands is no different from the US. That’s what I find scary. That’s what irritates me. And that’s what I want to explore.
On October 25th, I’ll be showing some work (video, installation) during the Museum Night in Delft. To echo my own work, I asked Daan den Houter and Ieke Trinks to participate and to have performances or (videos of) actions.
The Museum Night will be the kickstart of a project where I’m collecting some materials that I want to transform into artworks, research ideas as reuse, barter and the notion of what an artwork is (supposed to be).
In line with my masters’ graduation project, I keep exploring the financial world and the crisis, but this time with a twist: the theme of this year’s Museum Night is “In natura” or in English “In kind”. That’s why I will set up a temporary exchange office where visitors can bring objects or raw materials for me to turn into artworks in the weeks following the Museum Night. In return visitors will get small artwork made especially for the Museum Night. Visitors will also have the possibility to buy mini gold bars, leave messages behind etc. And in addition, every hour a performance, an action or a “meet & greet” with the artists will take place.
So come along and bring objects or raw material!