Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Show me the Money

There are few better ways to actually propel me to an exhibition than to send out ‘last day’ notifications. Hence pottering down to the People’s History Museum in Manchester with husband to see Show me the Money, an excellent show exploring the ways in which artists have responded to the concept of filthy lucre since the eighteenth century. There were many fascinating pieces – ranging from satirical items from Hogarth and Cruikshank via 1970s Cornish banknotes to meditations on the financial crisis. My top spot, though, was the work of my friend Jane Lawson, whose email reminders were partly responsible for getting me to the exhibition. Her Bioremediation series of time-lapse videos of works of philosophical evil – in this case, Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom – being consumed by toxin-absorbing mushrooms are some of my favourite items of conceptual art for their inventiveness, humour and pointed politics.

Here’s the Bioremediation video on Vimeo:

Jane Lawson Detoxification of Capitalism and Freedom v2.0 landscape from Jane Lawson on Vimeo.

On the subject of the havoc wreaked by capitalism, though, I was gutted to see on the way to the PHM that Hines look to be planning to knock down the lovely old Odeon Cinema building on Peter Street. The replacement, obviously, will be yet another faceless, obscenely energy-inefficient glass-and-metal office tower to join the gaping acreage of soulless machismo that is engulfing the rest of St Peter’s Square. Given that Manchester city centre seems to consist largely of empty office space, the reasoning behind yet another of these monstrosities, and the destruction of yet another of the few characterful buildings left in the city, must be some kind of financial shenanigans.

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