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.
Numismatics #2 (Yi Sun-shin)
Born on 28 April 1545 as son of an aristocratic family. He became Korea’s most famous military leader despite a rocky career including multiple degradations, imprisonment and even torture. Yi Sun-Shin was responsible for the invention and improvement of the Korean ‘turtle boats’ – warships, which were crucial in fighting back
Japanese invasions between 1592 and 1598. The highlight of his military achievements is the sea battle of Myeongyang, in which he managed to defeat 333 Japanese boats with his own fleet of just 13. He died a year later on 18 August 1598 in the sea battle of Noryang. Today he is considered a national hero in South as well as North Korea and even in Japan he is revered for his bravery and honesty.