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.
Born on 19 November 1917 in Allahabad Indira Ghandi was not related to Mahatma Ghandi. Her father Pandit Nehru was the first prime minister of independent India. She was already involved in the Indian independence movement as a teen and followed her father as India’s first female prime minister in 1966. Initially she became
popular for a number of important reforms but increasingly depended on emergency rules. Her authoritarian style of government eventually led to the defeat of her Congress party in 1977 and consequently her resignation. Re-elected in 1980 her second term was marked in particular by the intensification of the Sikh separatist movement. In January 1984 the conflict escalated with the siege and storming of the Golden Temple of Amritsar in which 400 police and 2200 Sikh were killed. Indira Ghandi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October 1984.