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 18 July 1861 as the seventh of eleven children in Calamba City in the Philippines. He studied philosophy, literature and medicine and was also trained as a surveyor. Also living in Spain and Germany, he there practiced as an eye specialist and illustrated children’s books. Rizal is best known as a writer and political
activist. His most famous novel is Noli me tangere, in which he accuses the Catholic church of corruption, land-grab and sexual crimes. After his return to the Philippines he was convicted as a political activist and sent into exile in Mindanao, where he immediately began to build schools and hospitals as well as a new water utilisation system. He was arrested for a second time soon afterwards and this time was convicted to death and executed in Manila on 30 December 1896.