For those of us living in a capitalist society, there is an inexorable link between our lives, our perceived happiness, and the bits of paper we exchange for goods and services. A banknote has no inherent value, it is merely a reference to a sum, held in our names, by the issuing authority – in the UK, the bank of England.
There is an imbalance of opportunity inherent in cash, the rich have access to more of the world than the poor. Many people are obsessed with money, the ‘creation’ and acquisition of wealth in-and-of itself. This is, of course, an illusion – the actual value of money is a flexible agreement within a society mediated by the shifting tides of the economy. When that agreement of trust is compromised the ramifications can be substantial. Witness the recent crash in world markets, leaving this country, and many more, with unimaginably large debts, created in our name to prop up ‘the banking system’.
I started a campaign of subtly defacing currency about two years ago. Using a custom ink-stamp and UV ink, I have been tagging all the money that passes through my hands. To date, that’s now well into the thousands of pounds. The stamp itself is invisible, until illuminated under a blacklight – commonly used in this country to check for counterfeit notes.
This work is really about how we use these pieces of paper as markers of our passage through time. We spend to live, and live to spend. Each note we hand over gets us a little closer to death…