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Reflections on money, art and bank notes

Money and art are deeply intertwined. Kings and emperors used it to show off their wealth and good taste. And when in the middle-ages merchants started earning money, they copied this behaviour.

Developments in money also influenced art. When the financial markets tumbled in 1720, a string of plays and drawings were made to depict the silly fools that had invested so much in shares.

In style with this tradition, the Dutch artist Dadara has responded to the financial crisis by setting up an Exchanghibition Bank. It’s a bank that issues bank notes for the nominal sums of zero, million or infinite. As such his art and his notes help us to reflect on the true questions that are relevant: where is the real value?

What I found most interesting about Dadara’s project is that his conceptual challenge and questions to society still sticks to a numerical concept. The notes are zero, million or infinite. And perhaps this is a necessary condition to help the specialists and public rethink the concept and value of banknotes.

But I wondered. Do we need to be numerical. Isn’t there another angle that we could use to reflect on the question where notes and value meet?

I think there is, and inspired by the Dadara-concept I hereby present you my notes on that topic.

Simon Lelieveldt is an Industrial Engineer, active in the Dutch Banking sector. In his career he has worked in both the private sector (Postbank, ING, S. Lelieveldt Consultancy), the public sector (De Nederlandsche Bank), and at a representative branche-organisation (De Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken).


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