The long-term research project Monument to Capital takes as its point of departure the Barclays Capital’s Skyscraper Index, managed by the international investment bank Barclays. The index visualizes the “unhealthy correlation between the construction of the next world’s tallest building and an impending financial crisis.” Barclays’ argues that there is a structural relationship between economic crisis and the construction of the highest buildings of the world, from the Equitable Life Building in New York constructed in 1871 – the year of the onset of the “long depression”– to the Burj Khalifa constructed throughout the 2007-10 worldwide economic crisis.
Barclays’ research shows that at times when the Dow Jones index goes down, the highest buildings of the world literally go up, as if the architectural landmarks of high finance capitalism unconsciously respond to an unfolding crisis in an attempt to capture, to make “solid,” what would otherwise melt into thin air. The highest buildings of the world as such seem to monumentalize capital at the very moment it disappears, hence forging a global “monument to capital.”
Following earlier studies from 2013, Monument to Capital, Installation was constructed in the atrium of Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. The installation displays the history of the highest buildings in the world parallel to its crises, represented by their red counterparts. Whereas the silhouettes of the buildings are cut out from the wooden construction, their mirrors – that represent their simultaneous crises – are made solid; emphasizing how the speculative “architecture” of the Dow Jones index prevails over its actual material realization. Data presented in the installation was retrieved from the price-weighted NYSE of 1860-1885, as well as the Dow Jones TA of 1885-1896 and the Dow Jones IA of 1896-2013, adjusted for inflation.
Jonas Staal (artist), Paul Kuipers (architect), Remco van Bladel (graphic designer), Younes Bouadi (producer), Renée In der Maur (researcher), Evelien Scheltinga (exhibition coordinator)
Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA): WheredoIendandyoubegin - On Secularity (SE), curated by Nav Haq