MONEY FOR NOTHING
Intrigued by Tatsuo Miyajima’s use of numbers in sculpture, I was inspired to create an interactive work representing the economic losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The horrific numbers inundating the news from the Spring of 2020 forced me to reflect on societal inequalities such as poverty and social injustice, culminating in Money for Nothing. This work is an ash-based dynamic sculpture reflecting
the pandemic-driven $6.6 trillion economic loss, which has been disproportionately felt by minority and under-resourced groups. I chose to use ash to represent this economic loss because ash is a symbol of sin and implies the unscrupulous means through which billionaires profited $1.2 trillion while vast populations suffered job losses, health crises, and homelessness during the pandemic.
In constructing Money for Nothing, I first scaled each cubic inch of ash to represent $10 billion. I purchased 660 cubic inches of ash (roughly 7.5 lbs) to represent the $6.6 trillion of economic loss. Once the materials were obtained, I laser-cut an acrylic funnel to perfectly fit the requisite amount of ash. Finally, I welded together a wrought-iron armature for the funnel to hang from by aircraft cables. I placed a stopper in the outlet of the funnel to prevent the ash from prematurely spilling out. Once it was on display, the ash poured out for twelve minutes, representing the seemingly relentless losses of the first six months of the pandemic–every two minutes representing one month.
At the sculpture’s initial position, the ash is held completely within the acrylic funnel, symbolizing the time before the pandemic. The potential energy of the ash being held in an unnatural position–fighting gravity–is similar to the precarious financial conditions of the masses. The next phase of the sculpture displays the ash slowly and consistently pouring out of the acrylic funnel for approximately twelve minutes. At its final position, the ash has completely poured out of the funnel and lays in a mound beneath it while the funnel still hangs–empty and tainted–representing the apparent hopelessness and emptiness that plagued the masses during the pandemic while the wealthy hollowed out a robust society leaving only the framework.