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Local currencies produced to ‘support local economies’ in the Sates: via USA Today & Huffington Post.



Image: Rathowen, Co. Westmeath, from Ghost Estates of the Irish Property Bubble
The title of this post comes from a chapter in Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, from 1963. Though speaking about housing and planning policies in the sixties and earlier in the US, the text has a sudden renewed sharpness in relation to recent events. (It doesn’t speak of diasaster capitalism a la Naoimi Klein, although there are similarities in the language of upheaval, violence and shock). Arguing for the necessity of ‘gradual, constant close grained changes’, Jacobs says:
this money shapes cataclysmic changes in cities. Relatively little of it shapes gradual change. Cataclysmic money pours into an area in concentrated form, producing drastic changes. As an obverse of this behaviour, cataclysmic money sends relatively few trickles of money into localities not treated to cataclysm. Putting it figuratively, insofar as their effects on most city streets and districts are concerned, these three kinds of money [state, private and ‘shadow world’] behave not like irrigation systems, bringing life-giving streams to feed steady, continual growth. Instead, they behave like manifestations of malevolent climates beyond the control of man – affording either searing droughts or torrential, eroding floods…
City people finance the building of suburbs. To be sure, one of the historic missions of cities, those marvelously productive and efficient places, is to finance colonisation…
This city building money operates as it does not because of its own internal necessities and forces. It operates cataclymically because we, as a society, have asked for just this. We thought it would be good for us, and we got it. Now we accept it as if it were ordained by God or the system.
The pervasive responses to the recession here  have been variations along the spectrum of  I’m fucked to I’m alright, Jack. (And maybe now is time to get a good deal on a used car?) Apparently we will have to weather this recession until times get good again. The sense of resignation to capitalism’s sometimes cruel weather systems is disheartening. There are very many diverse microclimates to be found in the shade of mountains and in gardens and small parks elsewhere, both by chance and by design.

Jaysus, it was a good thing I got that big project done last year. There’ll be no more money like that around for a while.

I still have a bit of Arts Council money left. Gonna have to be really clever with it. There’ll be no bursaries to be had next year y’know.

Recession Survival Tips for Artists from a-n magazine here.


So the other week the three kingpins of celebrity economics in Ireland, David McWilliams, Eddie Hobbs and George Lee were all on Saturday night TV.

However there were no handbags at dawn or any direct challenges at all to each others economic predictions/ political positions (pre June 24 this was before the official announcement of The Recession). Instead, the three men regressed into an economic nostalgia glued together with anecdotes of Curly Wurlys and half crowns found on the street and cashed in at the sweet shop.

A comment from The Property Pin:

I was hoping we would ‘get real’ but no. This is just a fluff piece with a little bit of light sabre rattling, but no killer thrusts. The three boys almost being publicly embarrassed for being so right, and having to defend themselves – ‘no miriam, i’m not a doom monger’.

I believe we’re going to need a televised blood and guts, bone crunching, broken teeth D-Day type watershed to burst this bubble.

“Why is my 100% mortgaged shoebox worth 40% less than what I paid for it, if I could even find someone to buy it? I don’t remember anyone pointing out that was a possibility when I was being brow beaten into buying it.”

With the Dans and the Austins and the Toms and the Kens in the dock to explain how this all came about.
People in Ireland aren’t long about whinging to Joe Duffy if they think they were charged too much for a meal in a restaurant, but we have an entire generation who have been ripped off for their life savings and possibly their career earnings and there isn’t a fucking murmur of discontent to be found anywhere. It’s disturbing.

It seems that the penny sweet remains the primary unit that acts both as a touchstone for avarice and a way to extrapolate larger economic structures.

This is a version of an article recently published in the Visual Artist’s Newsheet. It’s a response to a roundtable discussion titled ‘Creativity versus Commodity’, organised for Colin Darke’s exhibition at Temple Bar Galleries, Dublin, written about here. [February 8th 2008]

The Capital Paintings evolved from Darke’s earlier work, Capital, where the artist transcribed the entire text of Marx’s three volumes of ‘Das Capital’ onto 480 2D objects, all mounted in A4 laminates. With The Capital Paintings, Darke has returned to the previous work, reconsidering and re-presenting every piece in the earlier work as a to-scale oil painting on canvas, though removing the layer of text previously written over each object. Thus, ‘Darke flips the previous process, the ready made becomes the ‘unique’ art object, the banal commodity further commodified and rarified via its display in the gallery context’. (1) The format of Darke’s work replicates the Christmas ‘selling show’ it immediately followed, and promotes this obvious slippage.

Where Capital was perhaps a distant cousin of Marx’s text, the Capital Paintings are a familial relation at another remove from the initial work, and a further remove still from Marx. Nevertheless, he hovers as the invisible referent.

Sarah Pierce chaired the discussion, which, titled ‘Creativity versus Commodity’, set up from the very beginning a problematic polarity of these two terms. Pierce opened with remarks that questioned the usefulness of this supposed opposition, proposing the notion of a ‘circular economy’ that we are all implicated in, but it proved a difficult opposition to shift.

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*Amateur Hour, a new showcase at Self Interest and Sympathy for new learning, knowledge, skill or entertainment* Submissions welcome!

This week: Moneygami

I didn’t realise before I had the idea that others had had it first… unsurprising. There is an especially impressive range of dollar bill moneygami on the internet, some samples shown here. I’m not sure if this is because of the design (status, cultural cachet) of the dollar bill or the particular inventiveness of its crafters.. my own efforts in euro weren’t nearly as impressive.

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check it out over here

Noma’s words after the jump


I just came across this work by Joseph Beuys while researching a Fluxus lecture… if I ever get around to it I resolve to compile a sizable selection of ‘defaced money’ artworks. This piece is from 1979.

The irony of this particular work is the large, iconic artist’s signature that takes pride of place on the face of the note. This authorial statement, the form of a defacement, enacts a particular economic alchemy (such a suitable word in relation to Beuys’ oeuvre): it elevates it even closer to gold and exponentially further away from any intrinsic ‘use value’.

Perhaps, to give him credit, this was Beuys’ intention. Often though, his critical gestures were weighted heavily in favour of his own self-mythologisation.


Key to Artwork Diagram: 

  1. Concept (raw commercial intervention)
  2. Initial Transaction (unanticipated relations)
  3. Economic Filter (seven models of transaction)
  4. First Advancement of Transaction (Cork alternative auction)
  5. Bipolar Field of Constraint (Liberal Capitalist – Socialist)
  6. Second Advancement of Transaction (Belfast alternative auction)
  7. Transformation of Capital (exchanges of goods – further relations)
  8. Investment of Transformed Capital (constrained models of social transformation)
  9. Analysis / Assessment 

The National Sculpture Factory commissioned Art / not art to create a project in tandem with the NSF seminar Do You Speak Art? (or where are you coming from?) exploring the relationship between art and globalisation. In response, Art / not art purchased and auctioned (three times) an exceptional sculpture by Thai artist Pornpraeseart Yamakazi, entitled ‘Want to Be Rich?’ (see below). As part of the seminar on 3 Nov, Art / not art presented the sculpture for auction.  A bid of €500 was accepted for consideration in the ongoing art-transaction. 


Now Art / not art have purchased ANOTHER exceptional piece of contemporary art, a painting by Thai artist Mit Ja-In. You are invited to join in deciding its fate.

Using contemporary means of communication, cosmopolitan connections, transnational standards of artistic accreditation, modern money transfer systems and freight networks we have purchased and imported from the other side of the world a sculpture by an artist previously unknown to us, all in a matter of weeks.

The nature of this intervention, however, has yet to be decided. It all depends on what Art/ not art do next.


June 2019
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