Monday, May 13, 2013

Making Money

Making Money.  November  2012. photo credit: C. Grenville

Take a resource from the landscape

give the resource value

Reveal the process of this transformation

give the value away.

Kathryn Walter. Fool’s Gold. 1998.


     Making Money is based on the performance of Fool’s Gold by Kathryn Walter, presented at Counterposes, (curated by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher) in 1998.  Her work exposed the process of creating value, not only in the art world, but also by exploiting natural resources, Canada having so many.  By donning a white lab coat, and positioning herself with a scientific “front”, she painted pieces of gravel with gold paint, and invited the audience to take a piece home.  Thus, the gold gravel became relics of an art performance, and entered circulation in the art market. My response to this performance producing a residue capable of entering the art market, (either purchased or given away) was to also create a residue/relic of performance, while also attaching a tag with its provenance.
          During the week of November 17-21nd, 2012, I performed Making Money.  Each morning I donned business attire, did my hair and put on lipstick.  I travelled the short distance to my design studio, but instead of using gouache, brushes, scanner and Photoshop to turn ideas into textile designs and (hopefully) money, I turned neglected resources (old wallpaper books, papers) into 
home made money.

     The new Canadian Twenty dollar bill is printed on a plastic material, and to recreate this, I had to use vinyl in my bills, which was a departure for me.  Fortunately, I had just enough left over from another project to make 22 new bills.  Each separate feature on my homemade money was selected from a paper that corresponded in colour to the actual bill.  All the pieces were cut out and assembled at my studio.  On the final day, I took my sewing machine to work, and sat at my desk, making money.
     However, the performance of creating the money was just the beginning.  The performance was not complete until the bills were given value.  Just making them appear like the twenty dollar bill in circulation does not give them value.  Only through exchange could value be given.  On November 23rd, I gave the money away to my classmates.  With each bill was a tag, giving the name of the performance, the date of performance, and my name.  By attaching a provenance to the money, it may circulate with a residue of myself attached to it, not as an inert object, but as a gift that may begin a chain of actions. 

     I also enclosed a self addressed stamped postcard, so my classmates could report back to me their experience with the money.  So far, I have had 4 responses.

     Especially important to this performance is the repeated condition of explanation.  No matter how the money is dealt with, at some point an explanation of it must be given.  This explaining is the crux of the performance.  Each time someone else explains the idea of homemade money, art and value, an additional conversation takes place between two people I do not know, that I could not possibly have.  These conversations/performances and ideas then become attached to the money.   
     This performance takes place between art and living.  Money is a means of transporting the value of commodities or labour conveniently, by agreeing upon a form (bank notes) and their relative value to things.  The money I made has neither of these qualities.  It is an artwork, made as the residue of an artwork. The form is obviously based on the form of currency, but is not legal tender.  The value of the money is unknown, until it is exchanged for something of similar value decided upon by the person receiving it.  This exchange has to be negotiated, either as barter, or in advance of the purchase.  To expect my money to be accepted at a cash register puts the worker on the other side in the position of having to decide to accept the possibility of having to pay back the $20.00 from his pocket.  The conversation about value cannot take place under pressure, so I do not recommend trying this.  
    Questioning the role of currency and art in daily life is at the heart of Making Money.  I would like to perform this work again as a durational piece, with an audience- who could help make money, or not.  It would be a conversation starter. I would be available to talk to people about what you can do with home made money, and the implications of creating your own currency.

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