Money Has No Smell: Curated by ACOMPI

Page 1

Ignacio Gatica, Mariana Parisca, & Gabriella Torres-Ferrer

Curated by ACOMPI Presented by CUE Art Foundation


CUE Art Foundation 137 West 25th Street New York, NY 10001 Artwork images © Ignacio Gatica, Mariana Parisca, and Gabriella Torres-Ferrer Graphic design by Mikki Janower


Ignacio Gatica, Mariana Parisca, & Gabriella Torres-Ferrer

July 21st – September 2nd, 2022 CUE Art Foundation Mentor: Rosario Güiraldes Catalogue Essay: Meghana Karnik

Curated by ACOMPI


2

About the Exhibition CUE Art Foundation Money Has No Smell is a group exhibition that presents works by three artists: Ignacio Gatica, Mariana Parisca, and Gabriella Torres-Ferrer. Curated by ACOMPI (Jack Radley and Constanza Valenzuela) and mentored by Rosario Güiraldes, the exhibition brings together recent works that trace flows of currency to and from the artists’ places of origin, in the process addressing the complexity of globalized and interdependent financial systems. The phrase “money has no smell” suggests that our perception of capital can be untethered from and untainted by its source. Through a variety of media that utilizes both physical and digital representations of money, the works in the exhibition eschew easy understandings of its origin. They instead provoke a consideration of both systemic and intangible forces—neoliberalism, nationalism, colonialism— that iteratively (and often covertly) assign money value. The three artists in Money Has No Smell render money—and the goods and services it buys—as a melange of ideologies discreetly manifested in our global systems, replete with insidious tendencies toward agglomeration of power, corporate greed, and political exploitation. Mariana Parisca’s woven altarpiece, wall safes, and lightboxes all hold remnants of the bolívar—a currency named after the 19th century Venezuelan leader—contrasting its material, economic, and subliminal values as the country experiences drastic inflation. Ignacio Gatica’s screen-based work subverts the sleek technology of the modern stock ticker and its

endless scroll to warn of the inherent contradictions of capitalism and the economic disparities it has produced in Chile and across the globe. Gabriella Torres-Ferrer’s living sculptures utilize the complex history of pineapple and plantain exports and the modern technology of cryptocurrency to explore the entanglements of trade, labor, and colonialism between Puerto Rico, the United States, and other international markets. Together, the works employ methodologies of withdrawal, exchange, abstraction, and transformation—actions that mirror the movement of capital itself. Situated in the financial epicenter of the United States in the wake of compounded global crises, Money Has No Smell presents work that navigates borders, mines and extracts resources, and creates networks of exchange among the people and places affected by the seemingly untraceable impacts of worldwide financial systems. As catalogue essayist Meghana Karnik reflects, “Within this uneasy zeitgeist, these artists channel a sense of disillusionment and a search for spiritual meaning that bring us back to basic questions of what equality, prosperity, sovereignty, and interdependence might look like.”


3

Venzeualan bolívares, image courtesy Mariana Parisca.


4

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer, PersonaDataMine 002 (Starbucks Disposable), 2018, from the series Mine Your Own Business; disposable coffee cup, microcontroller display with Google ads targeted ad categories, 9 volt battery, 5.2 x 9.4 x 3.1 inches. Collection of Cuno Andréhn, photo courtesy of the artist and Embajada, San Juan, PR.


5

Fetid Priorities, Systemic Failures, and Potent Alternatives ACOMPI (Constanza Valenzuela and Jack Radley) While financial systems seem impermeable, currency is absorbent. Oils from our hands, dirt from the sidewalk, and powders from pestled prescriptions percolate through paper bills, their nationalist symbols bending to the wrinkles, tags, and tears of everyday use. In the digital realm, tokens permanently inscribe the trace of their transactors via the blockchain. Whether in the form of cash, crypto, or credit, money is a vehicle—an arbiter of appraisal, but also an index of transactions between its users. Scent offers a trace, characterizing the origins and composition of its source material. The phrase "money has no smell” dates back thousands of years to a Roman tax on urine; today, it remains increasingly evident that many believe the value of money is not affected by where it comes from. Money Has No Smell challenges this belief. Through works that explicitly use currency and its associated infrastructure, artists Ignacio Gatica, Mariana Parisca, and Gabriella Torres-Ferrer critique global financial frameworks tied to Latin America and the Caribbean, unraveling the confluence of neoliberalism and class, individual consumption, and extractive economies. Their artistic methodologies include withdrawal, exchange, abstraction, and transformation—actions that mirror the movements of capital itself—to question the forces that shape value. Collectively, they reveal the fetid priorities of governmental and private interests, uncover systemic and structural failures, and speculate on potent alternatives.

Gatica, Parisca, and Torres-Ferrer each utilize specific physical, digital, and conceptual currencies, contextualized by their backgrounds and home territories: Chile, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, respectively. These are places that are frequently cited in the US as paradigms of economic distress, often without acknowledging important context: decades of U.S. colonial intervention, and resulting political upheavals and social revolutions.1 Gatica, Parisca, and Torres-Ferrer reflect upon histories that persist into the present, addressing the perils of inflation, decentralization, and corruption through contemporary technologies. They consider the macro-relations behind money, and its role as an artifact of transnational and interpersonal networks of exchange. If we acquiesce that money has no smell, maybe it’s because we’ve lost that sense—perhaps some lingering effects of COVID, but more likely a desensitization to greed in systems that don’t allow us to understand their complexity. The aestheticization of finance in popular culture turns this anosmia into an asset. This past May, in its first show outside of Paris, fashion house Balenciaga took over the New York Stock Exchange to present its Spring 2023 collection. Elite attendees exchanged exclusive “Balenciaga Dollar” invitations, saturated with a custom scent by artist Sissel Tolaas, for access to the elusive trading floor. Inside, tickers and screens glitched amidst the consummation of fetish and finance. For those with power and privilege, the spectacle is both distraction


6

and absolution, as if to pervert our senses.2 When the sight of wealth is so alluring, why should we care about its scent?

Today, most money is dirty money. The artists whose work is presented in this exhibition use this understanding as an entry point to implicate us all. Ten years after a transformative recession—and on the potential precipice of another—questions about global interconnectivity, individualism, and colonialism persist. Money Has No Smell offers a space for reflection about the social construct of currency. Only by exposing the seemingly formless and intangible dynamics that trigger global economic turmoil can we collectively remediate it.

Mariana Parisca and Luis Vasquez La Roche, En Función del Interés Nacional (detail); silkscreened archival cardstock, rideshare lights, wood, car battery, 22 x 17 inches.

Ignacio Gatica, Stones Above Diamonds (detail); stock ticker, live financial data, printed credit cards, card reader, aluminum shelves; dimensions variable.


7

Further Reading Baudrillard, Jean. “Global Debt and Parallel Universe.” Ctheory, 2015. Berardi, Franco. The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2012. Cuéllar, Jorge. “Bitcoin Sanctuaries,” New Left Review: Sidecar, September 15, 2021. https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/ bitcoin-sanctuaries/ Herscher, Andrew and Ana María León. “At the Border of Decolonization,” May 6, 2020. https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/at-the-border/325762/at-the-border-of-decolonization/ Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Gold-Bug,” 1983. https://poemuseum.org/ the-gold-bug/ Lazzarato, Maurizio and Horacio Pons. La Fabrica Del Hombre Endeudado: Ensayo Sobre La Condición Neoliberal. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu editores, 2013. Shell, Marc. Money, Language and Thought: Literary and Philosophic Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1993.

Balenciaga Dollars; Spring 2023 invitation, 2022; @DEMNAGRAM.

Shtromberg, Elena. “Currency, Art, and Economic Crisis,” Visual Resources, 2018. 34.

1. Chile, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico share histories of colonization, but their relationships to global capital diverge in many important ways. The practice of identifying and comparing political and economic dynamics through the use of borders (territories, nations, and regions) is often imperfect, and can even be infantilizing. Each of the artists’ works is informed by their specific background and context, and the exhibition acknowledges that colonialism is often embedded in the language we use to discuss placehood and identity.

2. Demna Gvasalia, Creative Director of Balenciaga, said backstage about the choice to locate the show at the NYSE: “money is a fetish, probably the biggest one in the world in a perverted way.” (The Wall Street Journal, 2022).

Zambrana, Rocío. Colonial Debts: The Case of Puerto Rico. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2021.

ACOMPI is a New York City-based, globally focused curatorial practice founded by Jack Radley and Constanza Valenzuela. The name ACOMPI derives from the Spanish word acompañado, meaning “in company.” ACOMPI highlights interdisciplinary practice and collaboration, and serves as a youth-oriented, communityingrained platform to expand the intersection of independent curatorial practice and site-responsive public engagement. ACOMPI celebrates narratives of immigrants, youth, and artists working in interdisciplinary means not satiated or supported by the current market. Recent projects by ACOMPI include: Ocultismo y barro, Miriam Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); Mariana Parisca: Corriente, Más Allá (Bogotá, Colombia); Crispy Tostones: Oro, Pari Passu Gallery in collaboration with Sabroso Projects (Queens, NY); Transient Grounds in collaboration with NARS Foundation (Governors Island, NY); Diana Sofia Lozano: Suspended in the Iris, Home Gallery (Manhattan, NY); Shanzhai Lyric: Canal Street Research Association in collaboration with Wallplay; and “What Can NYC Art Museums Do For Immigrants?” a colloquium at NYU Steinhardt. ACOMPI’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, New York Magazine, artnet, The Brooklyn Rail, Elephant, and Hyperallergic, among other publications. They can be found at @acompi.nyc.


8

Ignacio Gatica, Stones Above Diamonds (detail); stock ticker, live financial data, printed credit cards, card reader, aluminum shelves; dimensions variable.


9

Ignacio Gatica he predicts the national debts of various countries In Chile, a shift to increasingly neoliberal political ideology originated with the Chicago Boys, a select that the World Bank categorizes as “low-” and “middle-“ income. Appropriating the form of a stock group of students who were invited to the University of Chicago in 1955 to pursue the postgraduate study ticker, the work forecasts numbers generated by Gatica using popular econometric algorithm models of economics under the tutelage of American economist Milton Friedman. Upon their return to Chile, such as ARMA (auto-regressive moving average). Subverting the sleek technological architecture many pursued prominent governmental positions, and aesthetics that are often used to display allowing them to implement transformations to the information for private companies, Gatica instead country’s political economy. warns of increasing economic disparities across A member of the first generation born after the the globe. military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Ignacio Gatica grapples with the economic position of his homeland in relation to the global forces that shaped it. In Preface to an automated stratosphere,

Ignacio Gatica (Chilean, b. 1988) currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Gatica works in installation, sculpture, video, and text to question systems of knowledge that configure personal and collective experiences. Concerned from an analytical standpoint with the experience of urban living, Gatica’s work modifies the elements that construct these socio-political spaces, merging data, materials, and theoretical frameworks to reconfigure particular views. Gatica has exhibited at SculptureCenter (Queens, NY); the Hessel Museum of Art at CCS Bard (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY); El Museo del Barrio (Manhattan, NY); Galeria Jaqueline Martins (São Paulo, Brazil); Galeria Gabriela Mistral (Santiago, Chile); Fondation Hippocrène (Paris, France); and Fundación Marso (Mexico City, Mexico), among others.


10

Mariana Parisca The currency of Venezuela, bolívares, has exceeded an inflation rate of more than 10,000,000%, the highest ever recorded. Mariana Parisca’s altarpiece of bolívares interwoven with palm leaves utilizes weaving techniques used by migrant Venezuelan artisans in Santa Marta, Colombia. She abstracts both the symbolic and economic value of the currency by stripping the bills down to their most basic function as material.3 The arrangement of bills forms the visual topography of Lake Maracaibo, where oil was first industrialized in Venezuela. An inlet of the Caribbean Sea, it has one of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, and its exploitation has globalized the country’s economy. Parisca eviscerates the icons of nationhood that are imprinted on currency, and that subliminally seep into the lexicon of our everyday transactions.

the so-called “liberator” of the Americas whose face adorns the eponymous bills—is superimposed onto silk-screened logos of iconic Venzuelan companies that were expropriated during the regime of former President Hugo Chávez and his contemporary successor, President Nicolás Maduro. The use of cardboard references the global distribution of goods, as many of the sought-after products originally made by companies in Venezuela can now only be sourced by traveling outside of the country. Through her work, Parisca— who grew up in both Venezuela and the United States—questions American ideologies of liberty and individual consumption within a global neoliberal economy, arguing that they more often serve to undermine global equity than to uphold civil freedoms.

Mariana Parisca (Venezuelan/American, b. 1992) is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. She creates sculpture, installations, videos, performances, and printed matter that question and redefine the social abstractions that shape value, resource distribution, and consumption in the Americas. Her work has been shown at documenta 15 (Kassel, Germany); Mas Allá (Bogota, Colombia); Rudimento (Quito, Ecuador); NARS Foundation (Brooklyn, NY); the New Wight Biennial (Los Angeles, CA); Museum of History and Culture, Anderson Gallery, and Cherry Gallery (Richmond, VA); Virginia MOCA (Virginia Beach, VA); Bruno David Gallery (St. Louis, MO); and New Works Gallery (Chicago, IL), among others. Mariana has received numerous awards and residencies. She is currently a resident at Studio Two Three and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, and teaches sculpture at George Mason University.

3. Decades prior, when Brazilian artist Cielo Mierles was utilizing currency in the 1970s and 80s, he joked that “money was the cheapest material” available. Shtromberg, Elena. “Currency, Art, and Economic Crisis,” in Visual Resources, 2018. 34. 1-15.

In En Función del Interés Nacional, made by Parisca in collaboration with Luis Vasquez La Roche, the image of 19th century Venezuelan leader Simón Bolívar—


11

Mariana Parisca and Luis Vasquez La Roche, En Función del Interés Nacional; silkscreened archival cardstock, ride share lights, wood, car battery, 22 x 17 inches.


12

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer (Puerto Rican, b. 1987) is a multimedia artist and researcher whose practice considers futurability, power dynamics, and means of exchange in a globalized networked society. Their transmedial practice integrates new media, installation, video, webbased interventions, and other experimentations. Torres-Ferrer’s work has been featured at The Wrong New Digital Art Biennale; A.I.R. Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); Phillip Martin (Los Angeles, CA); Galería CURRO (Guadalajara, Mexico); and Embajada (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Their work has also been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art (with Occupy Museum, 2017), El Museo del Barrio (Manhattan, NY), and the Hessel Museum of Art at CCS Bard (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 2022). In 2020, Torres-Ferrer received a guest artist prize from CERN (Geneva) and enrolled in the Akademie Schloss Solitude’s international artist-in-residence fellowship. Torres-Ferrer is represented by Embajada (San Juan, Puerto Rico).

4. Tiku, Nitasha. “‘Crypto Colonizers’ in Puerto Rico Try to Sell Locals on the Dream.” The Washington Post, January 14, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/01/13/crypto-puerto-rico/.

5. Conversation with Gabriella Torres-Ferrer via email, May 2022.

In Untitled (What a Crypton), Gabriella TorresFerrer collects video footage of a plantain bunch affixed with microcomputers that actively process crypto-mining data in real-time. The plantain was brought to the colonized Americas and Caribbean

by enslaved Africans in the 16th century. Says Torres-Ferrer: “unlike bananas, which became a global trade commodity, plantains flourished in ‘provision grounds’ as a very resourceful subsistence source for enslaved Africans and indentured laborers.”5 The video projection documents the real-time decay of these fresh fruits, alongside “live data fluctuations that cross-examine global fintech dreams of deregulated empowerment and sovereignty.”6 This work, alongside another from the same series that utilizes pineapples—Untitled (Colonial Emblem 02)—invites the viewer to consider today's colonial entanglements and who ultimately benefits from them.

6. Ibid.

After Hurricanes Irma and María in Puerto Rico, the United States has extended large tax breaks to businesses and individuals—sometimes referred to as “crypto colonizers”—who flock to the territory to set up energy-consuming companies. This policy exacerbates gentrification in Puerto Rico and encourages the exploitation of local natural resources. Rather than providing a public good for those on the island, the resulting pattern of corporate migration favors services for those living in the continental United States, as Bitcoin farms supplant agricultural farms.


Gabriella Torres-Ferrer, Untitled (What a Crypton), 2022, from the series Mine Your Own Business; plantains, live cryptocurrency displays; overall dimensions vary with installation, ideal overall dimensions: 30 × 35 × 50 inches. Collection of Mima & César Reyes, photo courtesy of the artist and Embajada, San Juan, PR.

13


14

Mentor’s Statement Rosario Güiraldes

Mariana Parisca, to: Insulated Investments (after Fort Knox), 2020; wallets made from bolívares (Venezuelan hyper-inflated currency) purchased in Santa Marta, Colombia, sand, guerrilla glue, digital wall safes, LED lights; dimensions variable.

I am proud to serve as a mentor for Money Has No Smell, the sixth exhibition organized by the curatorial duo of ACOMPI (Constanza Valenzuela and Jack Radley). The young curators behind this independent curatorial platform have organized a daring exhibition featuring recent and newly commissioned works by three early-career artists from Latin America. All three artists—Ignacio Gatica,

Mariana Parisca, and Gabriella Torres-Ferrer—use currency as an indexical material choice to reframe commonly held concepts around its origin and value. Through custom-built algorithmic display of speculative global debt, woven altarpieces made with highly devalued Venezuelan bolívares that signal their material value over their economic one,


15

and decaying tropical fruit embedded with screens displaying crypto-mining data in real time, the artists examine their respective local historical contexts in relation to global machinations of power, corporate greed, and national corruption. Despite the overall sense of frustration that permeates the works on view, the artists’ precise mapping of the complex conduits of global capital, colonialism, and exploitative economies clearly represents a desire to trace a trajectory onward. Beyond contemplating colonial intervention and neoliberal policies in Latin American and Caribbean economies, Money Has No Smell exposes these historical and contemporary failures as a necessary step toward devising new belief systems, shifts in paradigm, and possible ways forward. Money Has No Smell was conceived of at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made global structural economic inequities all the more apparent. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from an ancient Roman proverb suggesting that the way in which money is earned does not tinge its value—a belief that the curators contend prevails to this day. ACOMPI, however, provides an apt invitation to flip the phrase on its head, and to consider the very real ways in which money undoubtedly holds onto a trace of how it is obtained and how we collectively assign it value. Key to this consideration are the works of Gatica, Parisca, and Torres-Ferrer, who mobilize fundamental questions around sovereignty, global interdependence, and prosperity through distinct artistic methodologies. Through the collective presence of their works, Money Has No Smell prompts

a radical reevaluation of the current moment, in which rising inflation and economic turmoil are understood by many to be prevalent throughout the world—and are no longer associated with hegemonic concepts such as the “Global South.” In my early conversations with ACOMPI, we discussed how to contextualize such radically local problems in an international context. As someone who came of age in Argentina during a time when the country faced one of the largests defaults in its history, my own relationship to the themes of this show is fraught with this challenge. ACOMPI negotiates it with rigor and consideration, resulting in a lively and brave exhibition that is meaningful and apt for this moment in time.

Rosario Güiraldes is a curator from Argentina currently based in New York City. She is the Associate Curator at The Drawing Center. Recent curatorial projects at The Drawing Center include the contemporary drawing survey Drawing in the Continuous Present (2022), with Michael Armitage, Christine Sun Kim, Helen Marten, Walter Price, and others; 100 Drawings from Now, with Lauren Halsey, Jennifer Packer, Christina Quarles, Rirkrit Tirivanija, and others (2020); The Pencil is A Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists (2019); and monographic exhibitions by Fernanda Laguna (2022); Ebecho Muslimova (2021); Guo Fengyi (2020); and Eduardo Navarro (2018). In 2017, she organized Forensic Architecture: Towards an Investigative Aesthetics; a major survey of interdisciplinary collective Forensic Architecture that toured the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) and the University Museum Contemporary Art (MUAC) in Mexico City, earning Forensic Architecture a Turner Prize nomination. Güiraldes holds a Master of Arts focused in Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard), and is currently on faculty in the Department of Painting and Printmaking at Yale School of Art.


16

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer, Untitled (Colonial Emblem 02), 2022, from the series Mine Your Own Business; pineapples, live cryptocurrency displays; overall dimensions vary with installation. Collection of Laura Peh, photo courtesy of the artist and Embajada, San Juan, PR.


17


18

Mariana Parisca, Viscous Illusion Incorporation (detail), 2022; Venezuelan bolívares, United States dollars, palm leaves; dimensions variable.


19

Money Metaphysics Meghana Karnik “[D]ollars have value only in our common imagination. Their worth is not inherent in the chemical structure of [the paper], or their colour, or their shape. In other words, money isn’t a material reality—it is a psychological construct. It works by converting matter into mind…Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”—Yuval Noah Harari¹ The Latin phrase pecunia non olet, or “money has no smell” traces back to the policy of collecting tax on urine in ancient Rome. Urine was taken from public toilets and distributed to businesses like tanners and launderers, who paid tax to make use of its ammonia content. The phrase in its original meaning proposes that the source of money does not taint its value.² In a debate on how money works, a postmodernist might say that money can’t be morally neutral; a pragmatist that money is just a medium; and a manifestation coach that money depends on your ability to move from a scarcity to an abundance mindset. Even if money has no smell, it generates sticky feelings and assumptions. Unexamined beliefs about money can feed paranoia about rigged systems and scams, and paradoxically, give profiteering from uncertainty a network and platform. It reminds me of conspirituality, a portmanteau that captures the shared mistrust of institutions held by both right-wing conspiracy theorists and progressive New Age utopianists.³ The phenomenon of conspirituality—which is visible in vaccine hesitancy and debates about masking since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—seems to arise from conditions of imperfect private and public infrastructures, mass neglect and the triaging

of care, and the myth of personal responsibility. The compounded global crises of COVID-19 (wage loss, supply chain disruptions, food shortages, access to healthcare, a shadow mental health epidemic, rising inflation, widening economic inequality) exemplify how money entangles the personal with the structural, disproportionately impacting anyone unable to buy their own survival.⁴ Perhaps “money has no smell” refers to how senseless we are to the hegemony of the U.S. dollar, and how overvalued U.S. interests and ideas are—not merely in global markets, but in global politics and culture. In times of crisis, it’s common for messianic visions about money to abound, both in stories spun by large institutions and interpersonally. Yet this social behavior presents a risk of negationism, often erasing and bypassing the very real ways in which neo-imperialist extraction operates through global financial institutions. Maybe “money has no smell” implies a desired paradigm shift, though it’s ambiguous what kind: democratically-regulated central banks, decentralized cryptocurrency utopias, in reparations policies that seek to amend colonial theft and economic marginalization, or solidarity economies that work to redistribute wealth?


20

Ignacio Gatica, Congratulations, 2019–2022; metallic safety box, engraved plastic label; 7 x 4.5 x 10 inches.

Organized by the curatorial duo ACOMPI (Jack Radley and Constanza Valenzuela), the group exhibition Money Has No Smell gathers recent and newly commissioned works on the topic of money and its belief systems by three artists—Mariana Parisca, Ignacio Gatica, and Gabriella Torres-Ferrer. Within this uneasy zeitgeist, the artists channel a sense of disillusionment and a search for spiritual meaning that bring us back to basic questions of what equality, prosperity, sovereignty, and interdependence might look like. Recurrent in Mariana Parisca’s practice is the hyperinflation of the Venezuelan bolívar, which reached over 1,000,000% in 2018—so devalued that bricks of cash could be exchanged for household items. The currency has had more value as a

craft material for streetside souvenirs than at its exchange rate in neighboring Colombia. Parisca concisely relates spiritual belief to money in an altarpiece made by weaving bolívares and palm leaves, using a technique she learned from Venezuelan artisans in Santa Marta, Colombia. The altar functions as a topographic map of Laguna de Maracaibo, where oil was discovered in Venezuela. It recalls the country’s oil-driven economic growth from the 1950s to the 80s and its more recent oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, developed to resurrect the economy and circumvent U.S. financial sanctions.⁵ In her practice, Parisca asks, “Is it really unlimited wealth, modernity and nationality that we wanted, or was it sovereignty— freedom from these systems themselves?”⁶


21

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer, PersonalDataMine 003, 2019, from the series Mine Your Own Business; credit card, microcontroller display with Facebook targeted ad preferences, 9v battery; 8.2 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches. Collection of Benedicta M. Badia de Nordenstahl, photo courtesy of the artist and Embajada, San Juan, PR.

In recent years, Ignacio Gatica has been investigating neoliberal ideology—its language, signs, and signifiers—informed by the neoliberal policies of the US-backed Pinochet dictatorship of 1973-1990 and the intersection of US interventionism and experimentation in Chile.⁷ Gatica presents two works that function together as an assemblage: a ticker and security box. Traditionally, a ticker displays “ticks” that mark the rise and fall of financial value, continuously reporting live during stock trading. The earliest version of a ticker, made in 1867 in New York City, printed stock quotes onto paper tape, but recent electronic tickers wind around public billboards and on news screens. There is a common misconception that ticker data is universal and accurate; when in fact, tickers are often privately

owned and moderated. From Gatica’s perspective, tickers have been ritualized into acceptance as a neutral way to read the economy, even though their technology is rather politically and ideologicallycharged. Gatica and collaborating programmer Esteban Serrano propose a different kind of ticker, one that forecasts the annual debt through 2025 of countries the World Bank categorizes as middle or low income. Recasting countries as companies, the work nods to the predatory policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are historically US and European-led (and whose leaders are not elected). The work also seems to ask if there are more accessible ways to make economic decisions, without relying on prophetic financial technology. Gatica’s accompanying security box,


found in a Bronx-based 99 cent store, has a unique placard congratulating broker Gerald M. Golkin for 42 years working at the AMEX building. A micro-monument to an erstwhile career and to the former stock exchange building (which was absorbed by the NYSE in 2009), it stands in for lost experiences, memories, and transmissions of finance.⁸ 22

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer’s ongoing series Mine Your Own Business typically consist of objects of everyday consumption (disposable coffee cups, credit cards, and cigarette boxes) along with a microcontroller display (MCU) that presents various information from the Internet, ranging from the current market value of a commodity to the artist’s personal data. As a “real-time networked installation,” Torres-Ferrer’s work interrupts any lasting perception that the virtual is separate from lived experience, or that technology is waste-free. One of their newest works in the series, Untitled (What A Crypton)—with its MCU processing crypto-mining data on a plantain bunch, decaying in real time—specifically focuses on the capitalist-colonial dynamics of the US and its “unincorporated territory,” Puerto Rico. They write, “The first pieces from the series started as cryptocurrency miners, questioning the posthurricane [Maria] utopian/speculative wave of crypto businesses that seem to take advantage of places in crisis. Are these the best places to deploy decentralized technologies? [The work] also stands in defiance of the huge amounts of energy and computational power bitcoin mining requires; using the minimum energy and computational power scattered into found objects.”⁹ Even as social spheres become politically polarized and individuals more isolated, money continues to order a consensus reality. Yes, money can turn piss into profit, but maybe what makes it feel so transcendental and profound is what Yuval Noah Harari identifies as our mass, depersonalized cooperation with it.¹⁰ Money is based on trust, and humans believe in it more than they do in each other. In that sense, money is spiritual. Every sincerely held belief system has gatekeepers that facilitate the spiritual integrity of its practices. Lately, gatekeeping has a pejorative valence of disguising a power differential, of relationships

that aren’t transparent, which are extractive and non-consensual. The language of finance, debt, and its institutions are indeed esoteric; their argot makes it difficult to access their underlying epistemologies, and importantly, to audit them. Money connects us all, and yet many of us do not understand it because of our discomfort with discussing personal precarity, despite—and perhaps because of—the U.S.’s influential place in world affairs. In forecasting a shared future and in seeking new beliefs, we are each responsible for sorting emotionally manipulative affect from evidence-based information; for making sense of how money mobilizes both structural abuse and our collusion with it. The artists in Money Has No Smell tell stories about how we collectively understand the value of money in a global context where the U.S. dollar dominates. Is it possible to think deeply about money metaphysics through an American capitalist framework of productivity—with a psychological inclination to prioritize everything on the basis of what it costs us? When it comes to how helpless and hopeless money makes us feel, what else will loosen the earth than accepting that some of us are unprepared to understand money in our own spheres, let alone internalize the scope of our privilege in the balance of global economic justice?

Ignacio Gatica, Stones Above Diamonds (detail), from Operational Excellence, curated by Isabella Achenbach, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 2022; stock ticker, live financial data, printed credit cards, card reader, aluminum shelves; dimensions variable. Photo: Olympia Shannon/Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, NY.


10. Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind (New York: Harper, 2015).

9. Gabriella Torres-Ferrer, Mine Your Own Business, description from artist website, [http://gabriella-torr.es/myob/].

3. Charlotte Ward and David Voas, “The Emergence of Conspirituality,” Journal of Contemporary Religion 26, no. 1 (January 2011): 103–121.

5. Rachelle Krygier, “Venezuela launches the ‘petro,’ its cryptocurrency” The Washington Post, February 20, 2018, [https:// www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/20/venezuela-launches-the-petro-its-cryptocurrency/].

7. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship experimented with neoliberal economic policy but was violently oppressive of dissent. He was charged with human rights abuses in the 1990s. Pascale Bonnefoy, “Documenting US Role in Democracy’s Fall and Dictator’s Rise in Chile,” The New York Times, October 14, 2017, [https://www. nytimes.com/2017/10/14/world/americas/ chile-coup-cia-museum.html]. 2. The Oxford English Dictionary of Proverbs, 6th edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 211.

1. Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind (New York: Harper, 2015). Chapter 10: "The Scent of Money." 241.

4. Disability justice advocate, Beatrice Adler-Boulton: “Under capitalism, you’re only entitled to the survival you can buy.” Beatrice Adler-Boulton and Matthew Remski, “Eugenic Pandemic with Beatrice AdlerBoulton,” Conspirituality, podcast audio, April 28, 2022, [https://podcasts.apple. com/us/podcast/101-eugenic-pandemicw-beatrice-adler-bolton-id1515827446? i=1000558965675].

6. Mariana Parisca, MegaMillions (Infinite Loop), description from artist website, [https://marianaparisca.com/MegaMillions].

8. Ignacio Gatica, interview, June 22, 2022.

23

Meghana Karnik explores paradoxes between art and social change, spirituality and technology, lived experience and institutional process. Her research plays out across modalities as curator, arts administrator, writer, artist, and more. Karnik has an M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University; a B.A. in Political Science and Art History from Case Western Reserve University; and completed a non-degree BFA exhibition and thesis in Drawing as a cross-registered student of The Cleveland Institute of Art. [https://storefrontpsychic.com/] Sara Reisman served as a mentor for this essay. Reisman is Chief Curator and Director of National Academician Affairs at the National Academy of Design. A curator, educator, and writer, she most recently served as the Executive and Artistic Director of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation (2014-2021), Director of NYC’s Percent for Art Program (2008-2014), Associate Dean of the School of Art at the Cooper Union (2008-2009), and Curatorial Consultant for Public Art at the Queens Museum (2008). Reisman has recently curated exhibitions at the National Arts Club (2022), PS122 Gallery (2022), the Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery (2021), and Futura Gallery in Prague (2020). She has been awarded residencies by Art Omi, Foundation for a Civil Society, Artis, CEC Artslink, Futura, and the Montello Foundation. Reisman has taught art history and contemporary art at the University of Pennsylvania, SUNY Purchase School of Art + Design, and the School of Visual Arts’ Curatorial Practice Master’s Program. This text was written as part of the Art Critic Mentoring Program, a partnership between CUE and the AICA-USA (the US section of International Association of Art Critics). The program pairs emerging writers with art critic mentors to produce original essays on the work of artists exhibiting at CUE. Please visit www.aicausa.org or www.cueartfoundation.org to learn more about the program. No part of this essay may be reproduced without prior consent from the author. Lilly Wei is AICA’s coordinator for the program this season.


24

About CUE Art Foundation CUE Art Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works with and for emerging and underrecognized artists and art workers to create new opportunities and present varied perspectives in the arts. Through our gallery space and public programs, we foster the development of thought-provoking exhibitions and events, create avenues for mentorship, cultivate relationships amongst peers and the public, and facilitate the exchange of ideas. Founded in 2003, CUE was established with the purpose of presenting a wide range of artist work from many different contexts. Since its inception, the organization has supported artists who experiment and take risks that challenge public perceptions, as well as those whose work has been less visible in commercial and institutional venues. Exhibiting artists are selected through one of two methods: nomination by an established artist or selection via our annual open call. In line with CUE’s commitment to providing substantive professional development opportunities, curators and open call panelists also serve as mentors to the exhibiting artists, providing support throughout the process of developing each exhibition. To learn more about CUE, visit us online or sign up for our newsletter at www.cueartfoundation.org.


25

Credits Staff

Board of Directors

Jinny Khanduja Executive Director

Theodore S. Berger President

Beatrice Wolert-Weese Director of Finance and Administration

Kate Buchanan Vice President

Georgie Payne Programs Manager Gillian Carver Programs and Communications Associate

John S. Kiely Co-Treasurer Kyle Sheahen Co-Treasurer

Amanda Adams-Louis Marcy Cohen Blake Horn Thomas K.Y. Hsu Steffani Jemison Vivian Kuan Aliza Nisenbaum Gregory Amenoff, Emeritus

Lilly Wei Secretary

Maryam Chadury Summer Gallery Associate

Support Major programmatic support for CUE Art Foundation is provided by Aon PLC; Evercore, Inc; The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; and The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. Programs are also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; and the National Endowment for the Arts.


CUE Art Foundation 137 West 25th Street New York, NY 10001