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.
Alexander of Macedon
Born on 20 July 356 BC in Pella as the son of Philip II, king of Macedon and his fourth and principal wife, Olympias. Tutored as a youth by the philosopher Aristotle, he gathered knowledge in medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art. He was proclaimed king of Macedon at the age of 20 and soon embarked
on an unprecedented military campaign lasting 8 years and covering 18,000 km. Despite being consistently outnumbered by opposing armies, he did not loose a single battle and returned to Macedon as ruler of the known world. He eventually established his court in Babylon and adopted many Persian customs. After his military success he attempted to consolidate an empire of more than 5,200,000 km2 through a system of post roads, new harbours, and canals as well as a unified monetary system, which featured his likeness on every coin. On 10 June 323 he developed a fever, most likely Malaria related, and died unexpectedly in Babylon aged only 33.