UAG presents 'Think of it as Money!' a solo exhibition by visual artist Adrià Julià
Irvine, Calf., Sept. 29, 2023 – The University of California, Irvine’s University Art Galleries (UAG) is pleased to host Think of it as Money!, a solo project by Adrià Julià. The exhibition will be on view in the Contemporary Arts Center Gallery, with an opening reception on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 2-5 p.m. The show will be open through Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.
Adrià Julià’s Think of it as Money! presents a constellation of artworks, in which the legacy of Hercule Florence—the 19th century French inventor—is the protagonist of a durational dreamscape, one in which money is the shapeshifting medium, bending and stretching through time. From Florence’s attempt to invent a Brazilian banknote—at once reproducible as currency and irreproducible as forgery—we land up in the mid 20th century of Dee Hock’s invention of the Visa card, a precursor to the 21st century derivative driven financial crisis when both the US Dollar and Brazilian Real fell. Along the way, Julià makes a detour through early photography—Florence hand also experimented on a different photographic technique than that of Daguerre and Niepce. The entwined history of money and photography therefore aligns with the history of colonialism, de-colonialism and post-colonialism, all of which is bound up with imperialism’s long history of extractivist practices, the Anthropocene’s origin story. Meanwhile, the fate of “new money” lies in our unforeseeable future, the ‘event horizon’ of which is blockchain and cryptocurrency. Mythologically, crypto has been evangelized by the likes of Peter Thiel and Elon Musk as being immaterial and autonomous, though they very much are not. Witness the dirtiness of crypto mining factories—each bitcoin transaction consumes 1,173 kilowatts—and the fall of Silicon Valley Bank, whose $200 billion in assets was a lifeline to crypto.
In this exhibition Julià literally works through this dreamscape—each image, sculpture or film being a performative artifact of the outmoded processes specific to the long history of making money and photography. In a digital world, one might ask: What could be more outmoded than the banknote, at a time when global markets are trending towards a cashless society? For instance, in Sweden—by way of Swish, a cooperation between six of the largest banks in Sweden—cash is now used for less than 15 percent of Swedes’ daily transactions. True, the global future will more likely be cash-light than fully cashless, but the hegemony of digital wallets is deeply problematic because cash and carry consumers are relegated to the margins. Meaning, whenever something’s outmoded, there’s always an attendant politic symptom. This is the context in which Julià, following the Surrealists, doubles down on the outmoded banknote. As Walter Benjamin said, the surrealists “perceived the revolutionary energies that appear in the ‘outmoded,’ in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, grand pianos, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them.” Adrià Julià is one such fellow traveler to the surrealists, and Think of it as Money! is his contemporary dreamscape.
Image (top): The Little Bird that Eats Stones Knows What Kind of Ass It Has (4306), 2019, mixed media, 16.54x23.39 in, copyright © Adrià Julià
About the Artist:
Adrià Julià is a visual artist working with film, photography, performance, sculpture and printed matter. His work questions obsolete and contemporary image-making technologies and their relation to normative narratives and systemic violence. His most recent solo exhibition was held at Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brazil and at La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona. Other solo shows have taken place in institutions such as Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Tabakalera, San Sebastian; Project Art Center, Dublin; Museo Tamayo, Ciudad de México; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; LAXART, Los Angeles; Artists Space, New York; Insa Art Space, Seoul; and Galeria Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid. Julià has taken part in group shows at the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul; Lyon Biennale, Lyon; Generali Foundation, Vienna; 7th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre; Akademie der Künste, Berlin. He has been awarded fellowships by the American Academy Berlin, Botín Foundation, California Community Foundation, Art Matters, American Center Foundation and La Caixa Foundation.
About the Curator:
Juli Carson is a professor of art, theory and criticism in the Department of Art at UC Irvine and Director of the University Art Galleries. From 2018-19 she was the Philippe Jabre Professor of Art History and Curating at the American University of Beirut. Her books include: Exile of the Imaginary: Politics, Aesthetics, Love (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2007) and The Limits of Representation: Psychoanalysis and Critical Aesthetics (Buenos Aires: Letra Viva Press, 2011). Her most recent book, The Hermenuetic Impulse: Aesthetics of An Untethered Past, was published by PoLyPen, a subsidiary of b_books Press in 2019. Forthcoming is Mary Kelly’s Concentric Pedagogy: Selected Writings, edited by Juli Carson, (UK: Bloomsbury Press, 2023).
About the UAG: The University Art Galleries are committed to promoting an intergenerational dialogue between 60s/70s neo-avant-garde art and contemporary visual culture. Accordingly, the curatorial mission is to keep an eye on the modernist past while promoting the most innovative aesthetic and political debates of the postmodern present. From this vantage, the projects commissioned provoke intelligent debate on the subject of art in its most expansive poetic definition. What distinguishes the program is its unwavering commitment to publishing scholarly texts in catalogue/book form in order to disseminate research-based information into the community, providing a venue for the promotion of innovative discourse surrounding mixed media production today. The UAG program provides several exhibition platforms for inter-generational and interdisciplinary dialogue. The Major Works of Art Series commissions original projects by canonical artists working today. The Emerging Artist Series features solo projects by a set of younger artists informed by the legacies showcased in the Major Works series. The Critical Aesthetics Program commissions new work by internationally renowned mid-career artists. Augmenting this intergenerational dialogue, UAG also produces larger thematic group exhibitions alternately showcasing historical and contemporary art and film projects. UAG further promotes an active dialogue between UCI residents and the local and international art communities through colloquia, conferences, visiting artist lectures and theme-based films series, all of which are open to the public. As the galleries continue to mature, they stand committed to being an experimental exhibition space different from the current - but largely traditional - art biennial and film festival platforms.
About the Claire Trevor School of the Arts: As UCI’s creative engine, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts has proven itself to be a national leader in training future generations of artists and scholars who go on to inspire audiences in theaters, galleries and concert halls – as well as in entertainment and technology-related venues throughout the world. CTSA combines artistic training with a top-ranked liberal arts education. It is home to the departments of art, dance, drama and music, offering 15 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and two minors. CTSA is currently ranked No. 1 in affordable fine arts, drama/theater and music degrees by the College Affordability Guide. Courses include extensive studio, workshop and performance experiences; theoretical and historical studies; and arts and technology practices. CTSA’s nationally ranked programs begin with training but culminate in original invention. The distinguished, international faculty work across a wide variety of art forms and forge interdisciplinary partnerships with others across the campus. For more information, visit www.arts.uci.edu.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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