Collage reveals the process in the product. When the material utilized in the construction of images carries portmanteau meanings through signifiers on the surface of the source material, the artifact reveals cultural codification in the image and the signs used to construct it. The material qualities of money for collage are phenomenal: great paper, the best printing, patina of use on the bills, variety of color and texture, and a plethora of icons and symbols to reconfigure and recontextualize. These icons are the symbols of power, of politics, of freedom or slavery, and of war. It is interesting to note the first coinage in the west was minted by Athens to pay the armada builders in preparation for war with Sparta.
It is not illegal to cut up money, as long as one does not try to pass it back into the system. Cutting up money is a transgressive act, a way of cutting up the contract with the system of capitalism. To use it to make art is a subversion of the tools of domination. This act is a symbolic rejection of an entire system of relations that makes enemies of neighbors, and sets up hierarchies of power based on creating artificial dependency on capital as a system of valuation. Soon cash as we know it will be obsolete, an archaic remnant of power made manifest. In this age of rootless multinational corporations, power increasingly has no address, and manifests itself only in systems of domination.
It is ironic that I must destroy currency to create beauty. What nautilus spiral shell lens bends our experience into beauty or suffering? Max Ernst supposedly said “ Since I was a child I have had the sense that the world was disordered and that I had to intimately re-order it …” A sentiment that has deep resonance for me. I identify as well with Wilhelm Worringer's words "Creation in order to subdue the torment of perception." Between these thoughts I believe there is an answer to the question of beauty. In the torrent of information that we live in, beauty is the oasis of the senses: the place of focus, of silence, of emptiness, of mindfulness and of compassion.