Monday, June 18, 2012
Money Laundering (Consumption as the Impossibility of Use) : Aaron Lish 
Bend, OR, USA
(Consumption as the Impossibility of Use)
This project, held at the tbd community gallery as part of the group show titled "Consume | Preserve", was what I would refer to as a constructed situation in which I was offering U.S. currency ($1s, $5s and $20s) for sale as limited edition authentic artworks. Each denomination was available in an edition of 30 numbered pieces and one artist proof (A/P), with pieces priced at the face value of the currency housed in the artwork. Below are some of my most interesting notes, which I wrote down any time I had a break between conversing with gallery visitors.
- The very first visitor I chatted with was actually the woman hosting the cash bar for the night. She asked about what I had going on, and I explained the project (that I was selling limited edition authentic artworks, etc...). She looked at me with a very puzzled look and said that she did not get it. We chatted more, with me trying to explain without becoming didactic (which became the biggest challenge of the night), and the illogic of what I was doing causing her to great puzzlement, possibly even a level of resistance. Then, all of a sudden she looked at my with her eyes bright and a big grin, and said "My mind just did a back flip! Oh my God! I'm not sure I totally get it, but yeh, okay!"
- A gentleman, after hearing me explain what I was selling, pointed at the U.S $5 and said "That one's very cool". I got the impression that he had not actually taken the time to look at a five dollar bill in a long time!!
- After talking with another gentleman for quite some time (he, like many visitors, was not coming to any conclusions for himself and was wanting me to tell him the purpose of what I was doing) I said "part of what I was doing with the project was creating a situation where something was being made un-useable, but in doing so did it truly take away the value of the item (the money)?" To which he responded quite emphatically "But nobody would use it" as if it would indeed lose its value. But then his face softened and he said more softly, as a thought struck him "But they could..."
- In discussing why someone would want to buy the money-art I stated that it is probably the best art investment you could make as it is guaranteed to maintain its value. The two middle-aged men I was talking to had begun to step back from the table when one said "But I think it's over-valued." I asked him "How so?" and he said seriously "Well, it's a U.S. dollar."
More at http://artcriticalthinking.blogspot.com/2012/06/money-laundering-consumption-as.html
Permission granted by the artist to publish this work.