Federal Reserve in collaboration with Eliu Almonte, SuperNOVA Festival, Washington, DC, USA

I began by sewing dollars in the National Gallery of Art, thereby bringing my value-added artmaking creation into juxtaposition with some of the great works of Western art.

The title of the piece of course refers to the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, based in Washington, DC.  The “Fed”, as it is known, is in charge of US monetary policy and sets the interest rates, arguably the single most powerful operation of the government on the economy. 

‘Federal Reserve’ featured a live calf.  In several African societies cows are still used as currency, particularly to pay dowries.  Unlike paper currency, a cow is in itself valuable, for its milk, its meat, and its blood, which the Masaai drink for nourishment.  ‘Federal Reserve’s’ calf represented its potential future value as an adult cow, and could be acquired by the same logic as purchasing the stock of  a promising internet start-up.

Eliu Almonte and I each intervened in the flag of the other’s country with our own currency, manifesting a political-economic exchange and the creation of Works of Art simultaneously.  I also intervened the Dominican flag with pills capsules, a form of health currency that is often unaffordable for ill Dominicans thanks to pharmaceutical patents and policies.  Eliu brandished a large gold ingot, representing the Dominican gold that the imperial Spaniards forced the indigenous Tainos to mine, then stole for ill-gotten gains.

We draped ourselves with the intervened flags and marched with the calf to the Presidential Bank, a site of the activation of all these economic relationships.


Photos:  Tom Hirst

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