Columbus Museum of Art
480 East Broad Street
October 3 - March 1
“In We Trust: Art and Money” is a sprawling survey, resonant where the collective spirit of the work is a churning mishmash of the absurd, earnest, sharp, and self-defeating. Curator Tyler Cann includes twenty-six artists and collectives. Leaving a blank space in the exhibition title where the word God might appear, Cann doesn’t so much criticize belief in God as show money godless and unbridled. The collective Claire Fontaine’s Gateway to Freedom, 2005, for example, makes common currency into pocket weaponry; two US quarters come equipped with small scythe blades, looking like somber militia recruits.
For Detours (Celebrating the simple things in life), 2014, Ester Partegàs lovingly drew what nearly resembles a printed receipt. Imagining the exact expense of celebrating the simple things in life, she itemized the phrase word by word: “celebrating” costs $10.00; “simple” costs $6.00; “life” costs $2.00. With Color Coordinated Currency, 2012, William E. Jones photographed various international banknotes grouped by color, using the similarity to foreground the perversely persistent economic diversity and economic inequality tied up with the banknotes.
At the end of the exhibit, there is evidence of hope for humanity in the form of a grand, expansive working proposal named Time/Bank, initiated in 2010 by Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle. The project suggests a world bank without money, based on labor-backed units of currency. Cheery multilingual floor-to-ceiling posters advertise services that help with the simple things: gardening in exchange for moving a piano, perhaps, or giving a tour, or hair braiding. All is not monetized. All is not lost. Maybe.