Yasia Bilotkach

MONEYMART

My solo work consists of an interactive exhibit of a shop, MoneyMart. Within this space, gallery goers are encouraged to come in and take the money that I have printed. The money must be validated before it can leave the space, which consists of marking the money with the amount of time it represents, and noting down the takers name, age and occupation. 

This work explores the concepts of labour, time, value, and surveillance. My inspirations were drawn from Pop Artists such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, along with the general store aesthetic within the 1960s-70s, to add an element of consumerism and time into my work.

I was also inspired by the current economic and social landscape. My decision to print my own money came from observations of the rise of cryptocurrency and NFTs, as those technological advancements also tried to create their own versions of value. MoneyMart is also influenced by the resurgence of the awareness of workers rights, seen in the rise of movements such as The Big Quit in America and Lie Flat in China. The Coronavirus pandemic allowed workers to reevaluate their priorities and start to consider if their compensation accurately mirrored the work they put in. Inflation, layoffs, and the stock market crashes during this period put money as even more of a priority within a lot of people's lives. 

The aim of this work is to encourage participants to engage with these concepts, and to leave the space thinking about the relations between their time, their labour, and the money in their possesion. The pastel aesthetic is meant to contradict with the invasive questions and implication of surveillance within the space. 

The shop is pictured below in a series of photographs.

Interaction, participation, and leaving with a piece of the work are integral to my practice. Within the development of this space, I researched participatory and strike artists, who through their practices challenge the conventional relationship of the art and the viewer. Transforming this gallery space into a shop means that the work will not be complete without the labour of the artist as shopkeeper, and the participation of the audience as customer. In this way, the work becomes temporary and exists within a certain period of time. Unlike a painting, which is meant to be viewed and conserved, the objects within this space are, ultimately, worthless, and meant to be passed on and consumed. It was my aim that by displaying the work in this manner I could engage with the value of art, and transform it from an archived object of aesthetic and monetary value into a consumable object with social and informational value. The notes themselves hold varying values, their demonination, the minutes of labour it took to create them, the cost of their creation, and their value as informative leaflets of moments of workers rights violations. 

THE MONEY

Money represents and commemorates the great leaders and symbols of a nation. With my money, my aim was to commemorate moments of worker's rights violations. Exploitations of workers leads to excess profits. The money allows me to marry the value workers create with their constant neglect and exploitation. The money acts as a symbol of this mistreatment, whilst simultaneously calling for reform with the words "Unionise", "Protest" and "Strike".

Pictured: The front and back of a fiver. The back references the amazon warehouse disaster in Illinois of December 2021, in which 6 workers lost their lives when a tornado ransacked the building. Government weather warnings were circulated, however the supervisors warned workers that they would lose their jobs if they went home. Pictured on the back is Larry Virden, along with the last text message he sent to his girlfriend.

Pictured: front and back of a tenner. The back references the deaths and poor working conditions occuring due to the fast fashion industry. The text and image of the girl are taken from photographs I found of garment worker protests within Bangladesh. The main image itself is a recreation of the photo "Final Embrace" taken during the April 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza sweatshop. The photo shows two victims crushed in the rubble of the building.

Pictured: front and back of the twenty pound note. The back references protest in general. The images and text are taken from the 2021 Kellogg's strike, which involved 1400 workers. The strike was caused due to disagreements between the union and the corporation regarding a new labour contract.

18/01/22 - 06/06/22

Throughout the development of the money and moneymart, I kept a logbook of my actions within the studio, in order for me to connect more fully with the concepts of labour and surveillance. I turned this data into a series of five digital prints, each representing 4 weeks of time. The prints are reminiscent of abstract paintings, especially Damien Hirsts circle series paintings. They are pictured below, along with a key for how to read them. 

18/01/22 - 14/02/22
18/01/22 - 14/02/22
15/02/22 - 14/03/22
15/02/22 - 14/03/22
15/03/22 - 11/04/22
15/03/22 - 11/04/22
12/04/22 - 09/05/22
12/04/22 - 09/05/22
10/05/22 - 06/06/22
10/05/22 - 06/06/22
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