16 Nov 2013

Me and money

Money is evil.

Money is one of the most dangerous inventions man has ever made.

Benna, the bad seed, 2012
Digital painting, photographic print, 60 x 40 cm

You may say that money is just an innocuous means when used correctly and honestly, but the human being is distinguished from the other animals for its inclination to the three fundamental vices I already defined in my photographic artwork entitled “bait”: greed, addiction and sloth.

Benna, bait or the three deadly sins, 2008-2009
Photographic triptych, three photographic prints, 51.3 x 50 cm each

The peculiarity that makes money so dangerous is the possibility to be accumulated limitlessly and indefinitely.
This peculiarity has reached its apex with the advent of the electronic economy, where money is nothing but a virtual number into a bank account, or a real-time speculation over the work of others, without any tangible equivalent value in exchange but solely based on a promise of future work.

Benna, wasted words #14, 2012
Series of personal aphorism, ink on toilet paper, ~ 95 x 1390 mm

But, what is money, and what is vice?

Money is nothing but something (an object or an idea) to which the collectivity confers a common value in order to recognize and use it as a pledge. Thus money may be a shell (as used in ancient times), a word of honor or a signature on a promissory note. Said that, however, also shells can be accumulated, like so the debts/credits of honor.

Benna, this is money, 2011-2014
Series of 47 found pebbles with certificates, stones, ink on paper, variable dimensions

If money, or whatever form of value conferment, did not existed, a greedy or power-hungry person could accumulate food, but beyond a certain amount it would go bad and he would realize the futility of accumulation.
The accumulation of useful or beautiful objects (like artworks for example) may have a meaning in self satisfaction or in the barter with what we need, first of all food, but beyond a certain degree it becomes meaningless too: only people pathologically obsessed by possessiveness can go on with it, and they would be recognized as sick. Instead, today nobody consider sick a person with billions of dollars on his bank account, because everybody suffer for that very contagious sickness.

Vice is a behavior offering vantages in the short term but it leads to the ruin in the long term; greed and sloth are two vices of this kind, while addiction is an intermediate vice and it may be at the same time cause and effect of the other two.

Actually, we live in a society founded since thousand years on money. Except the residual tribal communities that by now are menaced and chased away from their native lands and often exterminated physically or spiritually by Homo pecuniaris (have a look to http://www.survivalinternational.org/), to no newborn of this world is given the chance to live providing for himself without money: everyone must redeem his own seat and freedom stooping, unless you would prefer to be menaced and chased away.

Benna, thrifty thriving #01 (series thrifty thriving or the frugal meal), 2006-2014
47 photographs of meals I had, 12 × 18 cm, ed. 3

And although we are not living in a human society based on freedom and cooperation but on money, personally I am not searching for richness, the pecuniary one, and my one only purpose in life is spiritual or intellectual richness, call it philosophical research or knowledge. I live in a very simple way, not pursuing any of the consumerism's longings or entertainments, and counting on land produces, thus money does not affect much my freedom. So the earnings from artworks' sales are often used for further art purposes: in fact I am devolving money to art itself, in other words I waste money as if I was burning it out. Most of the times it would be preferable to exchange artworks for needed things.Coherently with the philosophic view of a world without money, my artworks may be bartered with other goods or services.

Burning all the money would be the only way to free the world from slavery. Sadly, destroying money is illegal almost everywhere and in some countries even considered a sign of mental illness, but no one would consider illegal or insane to accumulate large amounts of money inside the black-boxes of bank accounts or of virtual economies, no one would ever consider a crime to induce people with money to work in someone's stead.

I think art is a good habit and a social attitude, even a duty; everyone should practice some form of art, be that dancing or writing poems. Art is what free people do.

Money is the slavery-hiding lure, the bait made by slave-drivers.

Benna, the barter, 2008-2016
Polyptych, four photographic manipulations, 75x50cm each

2021 update

See also:

money2020 - future
Open series of diverse Monna banknotes
Inks on reused paper, various sizes, unlimited editions

Procedure art, immaterial artwork