I love $

Installation view, “Be(com)ing Dutch,” Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2008

I love $

Artist: Johan van der Keuken

(1938-2001; lived and worked in Amsterdam)
I love $, 1986
16 mm film, 145 min.
Courtesy of Idéale Audience International, Paris

In 1984-85, Johan van der Keuken took his camera across the globe, from Amsterdam to New York to Hong Kong, ending in Geneva. The object of his investigation was money, in particular the maniacal drive to accumulate it in the era of Thatcherite/Reaganite neoliberalism. In the resulting film, I love $, van der Keuken shows us his view of the world of money in which the Netherlands is fully integrated, and the contrasts between excess and deprivation. In addition to a succession of bankers, traders and executives, van der Keuken also interviews the victims of economic dispossession, such as the residents of dilapidated dwellings in New York and illegal Portuguese immigrants in Switzerland (who, ironically, have a son who dreams about the promised land of New York). Flashes of the developing world (which the financiers admit is of no interest to them) appear on flickering TV monitors, indicating its remoteness from the centers of capitalist power, as embodied in the sanitized streets of Geneva. There is almost no narration, just a few occasional remarks. Van der Keuken lets the camera explore its environment, with an attention to aesthetic detail (crowds reflected in polished corporate exteriors; digital displays on the stock market; beggars and children moving along urban pavements; Chinese New Year decorations) that sets this apart from more conventional reportage.

Saturday, January 24, 3 p.m., New Museum theater
Saturday, March 7, 3 p.m., New Museum theater