The Last Illusion

“When you trade a piece of green paper with a picture on it, signed by a bureaucrat, for a piece of white paper with a picture on it, signed by an artist, you haven’t bought anything, since neither paper is worth anything.
You have translated your investment and your faith from one universe of value to another….to put it simply: art and money are cultural fictions with no intrinsic value. Art Critic, Dave Hickey

The Last Illusion, a sculptural edition made from one kilo of pure gold. This holographic, mixed media work features a cast of golden shit displayed within a custom holographic vitrine, which through its own visual alchemy renders the precious heavy metal into a hovering, ghostly apparition.

Following in the tradition of ‘épater le bourgeois,’ or abject works of art such as Maurizio Cattelan’s America (2016), an 18-karat gold toilet, and Piero Manzoni’s seminal work Artist’s Shit (1961), The Last Illusion continues this line of inquiry, questioning how the value of art is derived, and juxtaposing the symbolic with the tangible, the abstract with the real.

ARCO´11 – Galería Moriarty

Like currency, the commercial value of art is based on collective intentionality.  By referencing ‘The Nixon shock,’ when the president of the United States unilaterally cancelled the international convertibility of the US dollar to gold, The Last Illusion highlights this break with social convention and our collective belief in the intrinsic value of money.

The Last Illusion lays bare the fundamental tension between the tangible and the disembodied.  By alluding to the abstract reality of currency and juxtaposing this with the very real value of Earth’s ecosystems, the artist leaves us to contemplate the nonpecuniary ecological processes that sustain natural abundance and life on earth as we know it.

Sarah Belden, Madrid 2019

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