Currency: What do you value? is a group exhibition that asks questions about the relationship between art and money, exploring the flaws of our current economic reality. The featured artists expose the complex relationships between currency and how society values or doesn’t value art, work and time. They employ wit and satire to reveal economic inequities and dysfunctions, and ask: how do materialism and corporate interests take precedence over human and environmental concerns? How do debt and money impact art and creativity?
Literary critic and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin described the concept of the carnival as a subversive, disruptive, world-upside-down event in which the hypocrisy of everyday life was unmasked. During carnival, social structures including those that defined class and status were disrupted by common people. In Currency: What do you value?, artists turn assumptions upside down to re-examine our relationship to money and how we live our lives.
The exhibition brings together national, international and local artists who engage with these themes through a variety of media and artistic approaches. In Debtfair, Occupy Museums continues their ongoing intervention that began at Art League Houston and appeared at the Whitney Biennial in 2017. The collective asks New Mexico artists how debt affects them and their art and uses collected data to explore the real impacts of debt at a time when U.S. credit card debt alone is over one trillion dollars. Albuquerque artist Leonard Fresquez has organized The New Booleggers: Fabricating (Im)Propriety, an installation in which 20 artists explore how high-end commodities are valued and question the worth of such products by producing knock-off versions of popular items.
New York artist Evan Desmond Yee fossilizes outmoded technologies including specific Apple products. He demonstrates how these objects, that have such a hold on us, quickly lose their novelty as they become obsolete. By placing the objects in a geologic context, he also raises questions around corporate influence, environmental neglect and a future in which nature reclaims its place over technology. Mel Chin’s Fundred project is continued as an outreach program with local schools involving hand-made currency used to raise awareness about lead poisoning.
Mel Chin, Christy Chow, Jennifer Dalton, Nina Elder, Ramiro Gomez & David Feldman, Hernan Gomez Chavez, Scott Greene, Keith Hale, Erika Harrsch, Steve Lambert, Lance Ryan McGoldrick, Occupy Museums, Yoshiko Shimano and Evan Desmond Yee.
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