Cildo Meireles (1948 - )

Zero cruzeiro (1978)

Screen print on paper
height: 7cm
width: 15cm

Donated by Gabriela Salgado 2000


β€˜β€™In 1974, Cildo Meireles began printing Zero Cruzeiro. Unlimited editions of what looked like cruzeiro bank notes without value were produced and freely circulated as 'insertions into ideological circuits'. The act of circulating art works by surreptitiously inserting them in the world reflects a critique of the commodification of the art market which was a common concern for artists at the time.

A few years later Meireles would employ a similar strategy while printing Zero Dollar. In this case, the 'non-value' on the bank notes can be read as a comment on the consequences of inflation in a country bound to imperial domination by its powerful northern neighbour. This is overtly portrayed by the inserted image of Uncle Sam pointing its finger to us in the Zero Dollar.

The Zero Cruzeiro bank notes denote an uncanny fragility which unfolds in two different levels. Primarily, they evoke the weakness of the Third World economies in relation to the foreign policies that suffocate them - as with the self-multiplying debt to the International Monetary Fund. Another level of fragility is conveyed by the use of specific imagery on both sides of the bank notes. Pasted photographs of a native Brazilian and a mental hospital patient effectively disrupt the heroic dimension associated with numismatic cameos in replacing them by invisible members of society. The victims of the system are stamped on the very material that through corruption and speculation represents all their losses.’’

Gabriela Salgado, 2000

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