Sal Randolph

[Free Dollars distributed on a plate.]

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The Emancipation of Money, 2012

Rubber stamp printing on paper, people, cultural expectations., Dimensions Variable, Duration Variable


The Emancipation of Money is an experiment in circulating an alternative form of currency (the Free Dollar). With no predetermined purpose or use, the Free Dollar is designed to invite questions and provoke interactions. Hand printed “dollars” are infiltrated into the social community in a number of ways: left for the taking on open plates, given in spontaneous acts of admiration or amusement, slipped into publications and papers, or offered on request.

The Free Dollar intentionally has no specific use. It has no denomination, no conventional value. It is not, like the Ithaca Dollar, the notes of the historic Cincinnati Time Store, or the currency of the recent Time Bank, meant to represent labor. It is closer in spirt to children’s play money, but unlike video game gold or monopoly cash which transmute effort, skill or luck into value, the Free Dollar is untethered to any particular form of reward. Free Dollars, like any kind of money, can be given, stolen, asked for or accumulated. They are peculiar in that they most likely cannot be spent. The Emancipation of Money asks: What can happen to money in the absence of that familiar act of spending?

The Emancipation of Money is part of an ongoing series of Money Actions in which I have been using the social dimensions of money as the basis of an interactional and interventionist art practice. For the past several years I have given away (real) money in streets, stores, galleries, cafés, at talks, at dinners, over coffee, sometimes anonymously, sometimes in groups or person to person. Because money is caged in rules, simply acting outside these rules opens up new ranges of social action and interaction. This project extends Money Actions beyond the real, into realms of play and invention. It is hoped that a purposeless form of money might offer a means of critically engaging the purposes of real money and other social constructs which we ordinarily take for granted.

Artworks by Sal Randolph

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