Print Edition 3/12
It was Alexander of Macedon, whose portrait was the first in history to grace a coin around 300 BC and it manifested his claim to be the ruler of the known world. Since then countless other heads followed, belonging to monarchs, dictators, politicians and war heroes but also philosophers and cultural figures. They all represented the societies they emerged from. Money was the visible mirror of power and the images on coins forged national identities around the globe.
One decade into the 21st Century money is becoming an increasingly invisible – faceless – force that seems to spiral out of control while the world is tumbling from one financial crisis into the next. The national governments that once emphasized their own power on the currencies they released seem to be unable or unwilling to control the unfettered force of a globalized financial market. Financial trading has become a virtual realm in which computers programs trade unimaginable amounts of assets at unimaginable speed. Simultaneously a cashless society is emerging. We pay with our credit or debit cards, our wages are electronically transferred into our bank accounts and we pay most of our bills online.
My images re-focus on the ‘small change’ that went through countless hands from in different countries and different eras. But now, on a larger scale and with all references to their monetary value digitally removed, the portraits in my images look like ancient sculptural reliefs. With a small story about all the depicted personalities attached they reflect on the depicted individuals but also on the cultures these small artworks represent.
George V, King of the United Kingdom
Born on 3 June 1865 named George Frederick Ernest Albert. On 6 May 1910 he succeeded his father King Edward VII as King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India. The king was a passionate stamp collector and an expert marksman who once shot more than a 1000 pheasants in a single afternoon
when, according to his own words he ‘went a little too far that day’. Between 1914 and 1918, together with his cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, he conducted war against his other cousin, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. After the Great War his popularity amongst he British people grew steadily but during the 1930s his health increasingly deteriorated and as a heavy smoker he developed severe lung problems. He eventually died on 20 January 1936, his last words ‘God damn you’, were addressed to a nurse attempting to give him a sedative.