Occupying the money

Intervening in currency notes has been a popular practice motivated by numberless reasons, but always in response to the impossibility of accessing the circuits of dissemination owing to persecution, censure or the absence of political representation. The sphere of art has used these tactics, where the clandestine message, being indissolubly tied to the exchange value of the note, thus manages to survive in viral form as much as its bearer allows. From Cildo Meireles to the Occupy Wall Street movement to, among others, Joseph Beuys, all have put their messages into circulation from hand to hand.

The work “Inserciones en Circuitos Ideológicos: Proyecto Cédula” (Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project) by Cildo Meireles consisted of the intervention through messages against dictatorial government and authoritarianism sealed in banknotes and then put back into circulation. The phrase “Who killed Herzog?”, for example, alerted to the death of the journalist Vladimir Herzog, detained by the organs of political repression. The project, to emphasise its viral nature, gave instructions on how to reproduce the action and declared: “the reproduction of this piece is free and open to any and all persons”.

Beuys, in turn, handwriting slogans such as "Art = Capital" or "Creativity = Capital", far from defending the art market, sought to point out the value of innovation (something that resides in each human being, in keeping with his conception that “everyone is an artist”) and that art is the new currency for transforming society. We should consider this next phrase of his in the same line: “Art is the only revolutionary force”.

Occupy George, a proposal that arose from the Occupy Wall Street movement and an action that is closer to the one Meireles performed, using not just rubber stamps but dissemination through the social networks of both messages and designs and calling for mass participation, proposes intervening on 1 dollar through different graphics and messages that allow us to visualise the differences between 1% of society and the remaining 99%.

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