Ludlow 38 is very happy to announce the solo exhibition Fruits of One’s Labour by Berlin-based artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian. The exhibition presents a large scale installation that examines financial systems and the relation of money, value, and expectations through ambiguous images. Originally conceived for the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 2008, the presentation at Ludlow 38 underlines the diagram-like qualities of the work.
At Ludlow 38, Sadr Haghighian places an oven in the front part of the gallery, next to a pallet with briquettes made of shredded Euro notes, with a former value of more than 90 Mio Euros. The piping of the oven extends through the glass pane into the gallery space. From the window one can see a column of smoke made of plastic apples. The “cloud” is illuminated by a lightshow and is in turn multiplied by the resulting shadows cast onto the empty walls of the gallery. The dampened sounds of techno music can be heard through the glass.
In Frankfurt, the installation was addressing the introduction of the Euro as a common value system of the European Monetary Union in 2002. Frankfurt is the home of the European Central Bank and a center of European financial trade. The pipe that runs like a flow-chart through the installation seems to suggest a series of relations that are both obvious and erratic. While the Euro initially helped to support European trade due to its stabilized currency, the value of money in the hands of the population dropped by fifty percent virtually overnight: the exchange rate to the former currency, the Deutschmark, was approximately 1:2. Value was simultaneously created and erased. Strong currency and expanded markets go hand in hand with both the loss of jobs and the relocation of production facilities.
In New York, a world financial center, the work unfolds different layers of reference and meaning. In the moment of financial crisis, currencies recently came under increased pressure and lost in value. With the introduction of government bailout money, and despite calls for more regulation in the banking system, social services were harshly cut in many European countries. Curiously, this currency crisis reinforced populist voices in Europe, promoting the reintroduction of the individual currencies eight years after they were faded out. On the other hand, the disco sound, the light and the installation’s “event character” also seem to reference the role of alternative economies that gain increasing importance within a post-fordist economic system. Value is a matter of interpretation, although it is based on shared assumptions and proves to effect everybody’s life.