I recently visited the John Hansard Gallery in October at Southampton University. It hosted an exhibition called ‘Show me the Money: The image of Finance 1700 to the Present’. Here’s a brief synopsis of what I saw and my findings of this interesting exhibition. It was an artistic exhibition exploring a variety of mediums and was politically and financially motivated. As this exhibition is the first I have seen at this particular gallery, I was thoroughly impressed by the way in which the space was used to compliment each selection of work on show in collaboration while still being surprised by the space that has been used within the building that appears moderate in size from the outside that is deceiving to the amount of work on show. A variety of works from different artists was showcased, some of which had been commissioned particularly for this exhibition tour.
Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance 1700 to the Present is initiated and curated by Peter Knight, Manchester University, Nicky Marsh, University of Southampton, Paul Crosthwaite, Edinburgh University and Isabella Streffen, Oxford Brookes University. The project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), with support from the University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh, and University of Southampton
On arrival into the main exhibition you are greeted by a large paper sculpture lying on the floor with a large photographic banner at the far end. The paper sculpture is the work of Rhiannon Williams whose body of work is called ‘My Loss is my Loss’, 2012-2014. As you walk nearer you can see that it’s a carpet of used National Lottery tickets woven into a carpet. Rhiannon has used her old lottery tickets she has purchased to the value of £10.00 since 2002. It’s quiet alarming when you look at it laid out to see how much money has been squandered compared to how much the artist actually won. The work is backed from behind using old birthday and Christmas cards and each ticket is interwoven. To me it shows the fallacy of a ‘yellow brick road’ to answering our desires for living a life full of celebrity and consumerism. At the end of the work is a large banner showing the work of Immo Klink. The photograph on the banner is ‘Financial District Testos’ from the Series of The Real Fight Club, 2004. Klink lives in the City of London, and this body of work confronts the media stereotype of what the general population thinks of people working in the banks and financial areas of the city. Immos own work is diverse and often focuses on reportage and street photography of political areas as well as commercial portraits.
Cornford & Cross
The Lost Horizon
2003 Computer Generated Landscape Screensaver from financial data
The most interesting visual stimuli came from the artists Cornford & Cross with their projection of a computer generated landscape that is reminiscent of the landscape seen in The Lord of the Rings. The presentation of this piece of work is interesting as it is shown through a projection that pans over the still landscape which could have been presented as a large scale panoramic however that would not suggest the idea of stopping and completely looking and interpreting the landscape before us. A variety of emotions and feelings are evoked through this viewing of the landscape from mystery of the dark gloom while the topography of the mountains portrays the dips and rises in the financial data over the course of time which is also portrayed through the motion of the image being shown as a video over a period of around 1 minute. As i was sitting and watching, the landscape move is a relaxing period of time that is juxtaposed with the feeling of mystery and the connotations of danger from the dark, sharp mountains that simultaneously indicates the world of the financial stock market to the fact that trends can instantly and suddenly change violently while appearing calm and tranquil that is undermined by the danger and deathly mountains of the landscape.
As I continued to move through the exhibition, the overall expression that I received from each individual piece is varied, expressing the fine line between tranquility and danger while others show the business and volatility of the financial sector such as the wall of words which seem to be a continuous stream of consciousness as phrases can begin a sentence but jump to a different stream of thoughts, as if imitating the stock market in constant fluctuation of change. The room that this appeared in connects together in a subtle business and volatility showing a sense of time through a long exposure photograph that shows motion blur of the people within the image of the financial centre.
I came across another interesting piece of work that also grabbed my attention in Gallery Two by Justine Smith. He takes the idea of Bermuda as a money trap which subsequently makes money disappear as a result of being a tax haven while having the connection towards the Bermuda Triangle where anything that enters may not see light of day once more. In this Money Map of Bermuda, the map lends itself to the connotation that although the colourful bank notes bring happiness, it is subsequently lost within the world as the internet and computers evolve into becoming the Bermuda Triangle with the intense reference and use of bank notes within the image/collage.
Justine Smith Money Map of Bermuda
2013 Inkjet Print
Overall, the exhibition refers to many different mediums and ideas and thoughts of the past and present financial market in positive and negative views that are expressed in subtle and extreme methods; from the volatility of the financial market to the extreme values and input of people into the financial sector.