5,000-hour tickets: time as a currency in the art world | Babelia

"I wasted time, now time wastes me," laments Ricardo II in his cell in Pomfret. "My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they shake / quadrants, and put them before my eyes." In his extraordinary soliloquy before he was killed (when he has already recited that “how difficult it is for a camel to go through the needle eye of a needle”), Shakespeare's most metaphysical character Meditate on the aesthetic dignity of the human being. He is a nihilist, a deposed king who cries his agonizing fate like a clepsydra that drips the final moment.

That time is money and at the same time an illusion explains the proverbial quality of physics. But time is not gold, it is worth more than gold. The gold that was lost is recovered, but the lost time is not. During 1922, Einstein was traveling in Japan after winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. Hosted at the Imperial hotel, he wrote some self-help recipes to kill time. "A serene and modest life brings more happiness than a constant pursuit of success," said one. "When there is a will, there is a way," said another. It is said that, wanting to give the buttons some coins and not finding any in his pockets, he improvised by giving him his signed notes: “Someday they will be worth more than what I could tip them,” he whispered. His famous theory of happiness, handwritten on a paper with the Imperial letterhead, it was sold 96 years later in an auction hall in Jerusalem for 1.5 million dollars. It seems a fair figure if we compare it with the eccentric qualities of modern finance.

'Merda d'artista', from 1961, consisting of 90 cans filled with feces by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni.

'Merda d'artista', from 1961, consisting of 90 cans filled with feces by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni.

More premature and ironic was the gesture of Duchamp when in 1919 (when he had already painted the mustache and the knob to the Mona Lisa) he paid his dentist with the drawing of a handwritten check for an amount of $ 115. Years later he recovered his Chèque Tzanck, named in honor of the toaster, for 1,000 francs. If the signature of an artist confers value to the work, what prevented him from drawing his own checks and recovering them for a profit? Duchamp was the first to openly become a buyer and seller of his own work. He did not do so speculatively, but because he wanted to include the reproduction of the check in the replicas he made of his Boîte-en-Valise. Long before, the great painters had marked the path of the planetarization of money. It is known that Rembrandt attended the auctions to raise the price of his works, with the excuse that doing so improved the profession, and that Courbet organized exhibitions of his works in rooms he rented, hoping to obtain a succes of scandale.

As Juan Luis Moraza states in his new series, money is a measure of time and will

Since Andy Warhol, who saw “something beautiful” on dollar bills and reproduced and degraded them in every way, artists have represented paper money in all its variants, a hyper-reality against which the museum's receiver does not find today neither critical nor aesthetic satisfaction. Poop can also have a gold price: one of the 90 titled cans Merda d’artistaby Piero Manzoni (1961), it sold for 275,000 euros four years ago. In Zero Cruzeiro (1974-1984), Cildo Meireles analyzes the paradox of the symbolic value against the real value of things, replacing the illustrious characters who usually adorn the Brazilian banknotes with an inmate of a psychiatric and an Indian Krara. The same idea of ​​pastiche appears in the series Guilloche (2015), by the more cerebral Daniel García Andújar, where the iconographic repertoire of the banknote - architectures, elements of industrial development and illustrious characters - is supplanted by armament, cyborgs and marginalized subjects.

Money is a measure of time and will. This is how Juan Luis Moraza represents it in the graphic series International Bank for Work Time (2020). His paper money preserves the patterns of the conventional banknote: the face of a person and the signature of the administrator (by the way, there is only one woman, among Foucault, Freud, Marx, Tesla, Oteiza ...); the watermarks, the security thread, the holograms, the inks of variable aspect, the signature and the name of the entity (that International Bank that gives it title) with the legend “Your time is my money” in different languages ​​( there are supranational entities, tax havens like Barbados or the Cayman Islands and countries like Albania or Indonesia); and the amount, from 0.001 seconds to 5,000,000 (more than the duration of human life). The least mysterious part of all this is that the series is exhibited and sold in the Minimal Space gallery.

Five-hour ticket from the International Time Bank.

enlarge photo
Five-hour ticket from the International Time Bank.

Exhausted the old irreverence of the artist, the issue of time as currency helps to verify that art retains its affirmative power by creating small spaces of freedom in the performative genres, which resist as they can in the face of the balanced circulation of finances, since they only spend and nothing They save. The set of essays Time is the only thing we have (Caja Negra Editora) brings together the timely contributions of European and Latin American artists who experience time in the bodies, time-share (between actors and their audience) or time as a subject. An example is the piece entitled Véronique Doisneau, of the French choreographer Jérôme Bel, represented in 2004 at the Paris Opera, in a clean setting with a single protagonist, a dancer from the dance corps who is about to retire. Among stories of his life and his experience in ballet, Véronique affirms himself, holds a certain position for a few minutes, walks, flies, talks. "I'm 42 years old and I look like Isabelle Huppert." The public admires her, now as the first dancer (absent), and again observes that body that day after day escaped them on stage. His time is now ours, a network of events, a common currency impossible to treasure. There is no time, as there is no happiness. Moments only.

Tripalium International Bank for Work Time. Juan Luis Moraza. Minimum Space Gallery. Until March 14. ‘Deposit 1897-1988’. Artium Museum Vitoria-Gasteiz. Until August 30.

Time is the only thing we have. VV AA. Black Box Editor. Buenos Aires. 304 pages


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