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.
Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Born on 23 January 1896 in Schloss Berg, Charlotte von Nassau- Weilburg was the second eldest of six daughters. She took over the reign of Luxembourg on the 15th of January 1919 from her elder sister, who was forced to resign after collaborating with German troops during World War I. Unlike her sister, Charlotte ruled
Luxembourg as a constitutional monarch. She later refused to stay in the country under German occupation during World War II and went into exile in Canada. She also gave birth to six children, who all went to school in Montreal. In 1943 she moved to England from where she organized the resistance against the Germans. She finally returned to Luxembourg on 14 April 1945 and ruled the small country as Grand Duchess until she resigned in favour of her son on 12 November 1964. She passed away peacefully on 6 July 1985.