INTERVIEW: MONOPOLY MONEY WITH MEANING


the dutch artist known as Dadara is coming to Berlin! we snagged an interview with the man known for his iconic flyers, paintings, album covers, statues and performance pieces and asked him about his latest project the Exchanghibition Bank!
 
the Exchanghibition Bank is an interactive project that aims to question the value of art and money. the way it works is people customize their banknotes, then bring it to the Exchanghibition Bank to trade it for a banknote that is backed up with love. the traveling exchange booth and has been situated in Amsterdam’s Central Station, Burning Man, Paradiso, and this Thursday it’s coming to PLATOON KUNSTHALLE Berlin!

Q. what prompted you to start your own bank? 
 
A. just as most things i do, it all started with inspiration. that weird flash of an idea, which suddenly hits you, and when that moment hits, you know you have to act.
 
in this case i was sitting on a terrace in dallas, texas, and suddenly thought i should build a swimming pool filled with money. the swimming pool has turned into a bank and a tree covered with money, and lots of other stuff has changed since, but that was the start. 
 
the most important thing in my life has always been to create and make art. the only reason i create is because i feel i need to, but in our society money seems to be the most important reason to do anything. it always felt as if the world was one big playground, but also a parking lot, and if you would not throw money in the parking meter you'd get towed away.
 
i noticed the only reason art ever gets mentioned on the front-page of a newspaper is because it got sold for a lot of money. a print by warhol gets sold for millions, or a picasso for 100 million. that is front-page news. but what is the value of that news, apart from the financial one?
 
so, the original reason was a combination of inspiration and art, but then i started studying the subject money, as a real bank director, money fascinated me! the focus slowly shiftedfrom art towards money. and now there seems to be another shift happening with a focus on value and realizing that in our society we don't really appreciate values other than financial ones.for most people the word "value" means a "financial value", and i think it would be good to make people realize that.


Q. how does the exchanghibition bank change the way money is valued?
 
A.  one thing that the exchanghibition bank does is make people think about money. because while almost everybody on this planet uses money every day, most of us never think about what money is, and i think it would be great if people started doing that. even though money is just a tool, we're not stimulated to rethink the concept. we are being taught that it is a given fact and we can be pro- or anti money, but never question its nature.
 
the exchanghibition bank tries to make people aware of the different values we have, and that financial value is only one of many. we try to remove some of the magic of money, so it can be seen as a means of exchange and then we use it to form a bond between people by creating something beautiful with it.


Q. how do you believe money affects our thinking?
 
A. money affects our thinking in various ways: our current debt-based monetary system stimulates competition instead of collaboration. our current form of money is very anonymous. you don't know where it comes from or where it was before it reached your hands. there is no bond between people. furthermore, money quantifies everything. it turns all qualities of life into quantities of bigger or smaller piles of cash. but not every experience or value can be quantified. after all, isn't what we value most "priceless"?


Q. how will people be able to customize banknotes at the DONNERSTAGSBAR?
 
A. we will provide pens and markers for people to paint and draw on their banknotes. we want you to have fun with money! of course, an experienced exchanghibition banker will be there in to provide any assistance necessary. once the customized banknotes are finished we will exchange them for a special two-point-zero banknote!
 
we will use the customized banknotes to grow our transformoney tree. the transformoney tree was built at burning man in the nevada desert last september. the tree has the exchanghibition banknotes of zero, million, and infinite hanging from its branches and participants can glue real money onto the tree. in this process the financial value of the banknotes gets destroyed, but they contributor gains value in return. for those who are a bit hesitant to paint on euros, we can ease the process a bit by exchanging euro for a dollar, paint on the dollar, and then exchange the customized dollar for a 2.0 banknote.


Q. how many zero banknotes equal a drink at the donnerstagbar?
 
A. officially, the exchange rate of a zero banknote is 5 euros, but of course everybody is free to give their own value to a zero banknote. after all, not all values can be quantified. i gave a talk at the envision festival in costa rica last year. before giving the talk, as a kind of experiment i went to lots of different stalls at the festival, and bought food, drinks and other stuff with my banknotes. each transaction included long and funny conversations, and many people getting involved. i remember a coffee stand refused my zero banknote to buy a cappuccino because they would only accept the infinite banknote. so i guess it's up to your bartenders as well how they will react.

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