Gourd, Mushrooms, Sennheiser HD 280 Headphones, and Wine, 24 x 18, mixed media and US currency, 2005
I love spending money. I love discovering new products, new solutions, new gizmos, and I always want the best. Whether it’s a car, a vacuum cleaner, or a toothbrush, I zero in on something I want and I covet. I covet that pending purchase for months, sometimes years, spending countless hours deal surfing and investigating every aspect of just how great that thing is. And when I finally can’t stand it any longer, I sell off anything that isn’t tied down and find the means to purchase it.
Worshiping Mammon originated with a spending spree. In late 2004, my car was totaled for the second time in a year. Feeling reluctant to re-invest the insurance check into another car; I made a list of all the stuff I had been coveting but couldn’t buy out of necessity, and bought it all.
I began the work by photographing my purchases, modeling the style to directly reference academic still-life paintings of the Baroque and Northern Renaissance periods. I felt this a good conceptual tie, given that those still-lives were created during a time when a broader populace achieved the means to commission artwork, and in doing often-commissioned images of their possessions.
My goal with the compositions was to pair what might be considered objects of a privileged or “good life” today (technological gizmos) with objects referenced in those paintings (fruit/wine/cheese/wares/etc.). When one considers the juxtaposition of these things, my hope is that they recognize the ephemerality of the value of the high priced new object, and the longevity and symbolic weight of the less valuable items (per contemporary standards).
The decision to make the images out of money came from numerous sources. I have come to understand that I will likely spend the majority of my time and the majority of my life’s income making uncommissioned art objects. I love the idea that people outside of the art making community would consider this wasteful. The technique involved here serves exactly that same purpose. While the concept of spending a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to produce an image no one has asked me to produce, might seem meaningful; the more important aspect of this work, to me, is demonstrated in the intricate process.