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 23 January 1782 in a monastery in the region of Agrapha he was involved in the Greek resistance struggle against Ottoman occupation from a very early age on. He became a leader in the underground army when he was a teenager and was captured at the age of 15 by the troops of the Ottoman ruler Ali Pasha. Ali
Pasha recognized his talent and Karaiskakis subsequently served as the Pasha’s bodyguard before again joining the Greek side. He finally became commander in chief of the Greek forces and lead them to a famous victory against the Ottoman troops in the battle of Arachova. Trying in vain to break the Ottoman siege of Athens with troops under his command, he was fatally wounded not long afterwards and died on his Greek name day, 23 April 1827.