ART, CURRENCY, AND CULTURAL IDENTITY
Artemis A. Zenetou
World Bank Art Program
The World Bank Art Program is proud to present an unusual and timely exhibition, the site-specific installation, Goodbye Favorite European Portraits: Hello Euro.
This exhibition merges ideas of art, money and national identity to create a concept that is unique and provocative. Russian artists Natasha and Valera Cherkashin show a deep interest and understanding of cultural history from their own perspective and its links to other nations. Having experienced the loss of cultural heritage in their own country, they often respond by creating art. "When people wanted to forget and even destroy all that was left after the Soviet period, we tried to save our disappearing culture, at least in our artworks. When we learned about the birth of the Euro, we realized that a big piece of history and traditions would be lost", they say. The creation of artworks in this installation is their response to the departure of national currencies.
The choice of presenting photographs of the portraits on currencies underwater stems from the Cherkashins' fascination with water and mythology. Over the years they have created a number of exhibitions and performances under water. A few years ago the artists began working on the theme, 'Atlantises of the World," exploring the association of lost cultures and the legend of Atlantis. This concept, and a series of exhibitions on the theme, "Favorite Portraits of People in the World," were the inspiration for this project.
Although the emergence of the Euro marks the beginning of a new era in the unity of eleven different cultures and countries, some nostalgia is associated with the disappearance of these national currencies. Until now, these "favorite European Portraits" on individual currencies reminded us of the achievements of the different countries and various periods in European history. This exhibition commemorates the eclipse of these national currencies with a single new European currency-an historic event not only in monetary terms but also in everyday life and culture.