For some ordinary passersby, who recently found themselves in a centric Bilbao neighborhood, it probably came as a surprise to notice 1000 euros in copper coins pinned up on a wall of the building, waiting to be “borrowed”. For those familiar with the work of the Spanish street artist SpY it was a delight to recognize his latest installation. However, the excitement and the artwork itself were short-lived because all of the coins disappeared in less than a day.
During the eighties, Madrid-based urban artist SpY was mostly known for his graffiti work. In years that followed he came up with more subtle, refined and effective ways of spreading his messages and communicating with the audience by creating two-sided, interactive art forms. The CRISIS installation continues the series of SpY’s famous one-word statements in which he confronts major social and political issues in a simplistic but powerful way. In this particular case, the artist used 1000 € in two cents euro coins to compose the word “CRISIS” on one of the city walls. These coins were glued to the wall loosely in order to facilitate interaction between the artwork and the observers. The result was, as expected, the absolute cleansing of the coins and the artwork itself.
Almost every day we are witnessing the events in which the art pieces, created by famous and celebrated artists are being sold for the enormous amounts of money. Materialistic aspects of artistic practices are becoming ever more addressed in the conceptual art. SpY, the artist who has always stayed close to his graffiti roots, decided to actually give away money to the viewers instead of charging them to see the piece. Even though his latest installation is literally made out of money, he is sending a strong message that his art is still free-for-all.
In recent years, the consequences of the recession became an important subject in works of the urban artists whose countries were heavily struck by the European Debt Crisis. Spain was one of them, and although the latest economic reports suggest that successful recovery is at hand, the question about the welfare of the citizens’ remains open. Economic and social problems caused by the recession seem to be ongoing and it looks like SpY cleverly addresses these issues in his latest installation. Even though he uses ordinary objects like copper coins to spell out his message, he creatively places them into a specific, well-chosen social context, familiar to the viewers. By planting his CRISIS on a wall of a building in a prosperous Bilbao neighborhood SpY is discussing the current gaps between wealthy and impoverished, and in his distinctive, humorous way, shows that every crisis can be exceeded one step, or, in this case, one coin at a time.
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All images courtesy of the artist.
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