Although money may be the source of many evils, it can also be a source of inspiration for artists.
In the midst of the current global crisis, many artists have, through their art, attempted to raise questions about its role in contemporary societies. Sipho Mabona, a master of origami and one of the few European artists to be widely acclaimed in Japan, the Mecca of origami, recently presented an installation that tried to capture, as he states, money’s full hypnotic ambivalence. His giant origami locusts, made of uncut squares of US currency sheets, therefore possess a strange threatening kind of beauty and are ready to devour anything and everything that stands in their way.
Mabona reveals the inspiration behind his installation:
“Money is our prime signifier of both ambition and perdition. Money has gone from being an elementary medium of exchange to being a means of exploitation: a colossal cloud of hot money [in the shape of incomprehensible financial instruments] buzzes above the global economy almost like a biblical swarm of locusts. Thus money is our bane. Yet money per se, when one looks at something as plain as a one-dollar-bill, always retains its basic ability to function as a pragmatic unit of accounting for goods & services. Therefore money is also a blessing.“
Sipho Mabona, who currently resides in Luzern, Switzerland, is intrigued by the concept of transformation, raising ethical questions about the use of money and power. After all, it’s the meaning that we give to certain things that really counts. Mabona’s installation, far from being pessimistic, is standing proof that things can really get better:”Although a swarm of locusts is frightening, it is the concept of hope that shines in this piece (name). In origami, paper is folded into definite forms but these shapes can be unfolded again. Although the creases remain, the paper can be folded into something else again”. As for the production process, each single specimen took Mabona 4 to 5 hours to complete. The Plague installation will be on display at the Japanese American National Museum in L.A. until August 26, 2012, as part of the ”FOLDING PAPER: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami” exhibition.