“City Room,” a New York Times blog, posted an A.G. Sulzberger story on artist Laura Gilbert, “The Art of Hard Times.” Gilbert, who resembles a young Ruth Bader Ginsberg, has, as muse, a tanking economy. She’s constructed a series of dollar bill collage prints that, unmistakably, point a damning finger at insolvent agencies such as Citigroup and AIG. The money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, is Gilbert’s message.
Her newest dollar incarnation, “The Bailout Bill,” extrapolates on an earlier work, “Zero Dollar Bill.” Digital reproductions of the work depict distressed, replicated gold leaf printed with names of banks and institutions –Fannie Mae, Citywide, and Merrill Lynch as well as the agencies listed above–stamped in and around a torn dollar bill. The number 1 appearing in each corner of the bill has been replaced by a zero.
We were safe until the experts took over! (That’s a joke.)
Gilbert’s reference and use of gold leaf–the suggestion of gold leaf–also echoes Warhol’s portraits of friends and celebrities he enhanced with gold leaf, adding to each portrait’s allure. A gold setting also creates an aura of royalty and idolatry. Warhol had consumerism’s culture in mind, and it looks like Gilbert does, too.