Saturday, January 10, 2009

Embryonic Economics/How I spent my winter vacation

I believe that a coin mosaic is a savings account with a potential yield that would make a young Bernard Madoff reconsider his approach. If I can take 10 dollars worth of coins and make artwork I sell for 1000, I'm already 100 times ahead, and, unlike a corporation, my labor is the only investment.
It is with relief that I begin the new year, having weathered a severe and abrupt lack of income and eager to witness the events our uncharted path of unprecedented world change might have in store.
Fittingly, amidst a vast economic meltdown, with snow on the streets of NYC, I felt the pinch firsthand by becoming unexpectedly unemployed weeks before the holidays. No holiday bonus. No severance pay.
On a budget of dollars a day, committed to babysit a friend's dog as a favor for a period of 3 weeks, I locked myself in a tiny room in Queens and began some new artwork.
I wanted to take my exploration of mosaics from bits of money to a new level. I wanted to make an image that was personal, yet encompassing.
I needed to examine my life and isolate the source.
I chose to depict a human fetus, still developing in the womb.
From the moment of conception we are inescapably bound for (and by) finance.
The worth of a life is measured not by how much it can produce, but by how much it will cost.
Born owing debt, already separated into classes by poverty and wealth, life begins to form.
To create this mosaic I sorted the pennies by age: anything after 1982 is a cheap, brittle nickel alloy, while anything prior is real, deeply beautiful, aged copper.
The difference between finishes is dramatic.
Every piece was held in place by gravity alone, so special care had to be taken not to bump the table, lest catastrophe occur.... oops!
Day upon day, hour after hour, the surface fills in with detail.
I decided to make the brain a bit more complex than the body.
Copper slivers mimic vascular corridors.
Near winter solstice, the scant sunlight is to be savored.
A point eventually arrives when the distinction between myself and the work is difficult to detect. At these moments even closing my eyes does not make the image disappear. We are one.
50 dimes, chopped into tiny squares the size of matchstick heads, densely form the developing cerebrum.Next came the backbone, requiring a larger investment.
Thanks to a friend waiting tables at a comedy club in Manhattan, a constant supply of quarters flows my way. Is chopping money up any less a waste than spending it on toilet paper?
When faced with the choice of eating or making art, I'll often go hungry.
To be continued...

1 comment:

tipota said...

you are an amazing artist, thankyou.
and you have a wonderful poetry in your writing about it. best wishes for the new year!