project image
Sarah Sharp

first performed on December 15, 2019
Arete, Brooklyn, NY
performed once in 2019


New York, NY


Before “Mutilated Currency. Blood Gold. Performance Edition 1” came to be, I had created the Art [object] “Mutilated Currency. Blood Gold,” mixed media on cloth, 11” x 12”. I made the piece specifically for an [art] show entitled Art is Money - Money is Art.

The first step in making “Mutilated Currency. Blood Gold” involved rubbing a dollar bill against a stone in order to erase its data. It is a time-consuming physical labor like polishing something. It is also destructive and illegal.

I imagined getting paid a dollar a minute to perform this action. I was struggling to justify the economics of art making, as well as questioning the intentions of this [art] show I had agreed to create work for. I imagined getting paid a dollar a minute to create.

I have not calculated how much currency I could mutilate in this manner in the course of an hour, but I would certainly earn more than I destroyed regardless of my pace if a system agreed to compensate me. Destructive, violent, wasteful government / corporate action is lucrative in our world, while manual labor is abused on a global scale.

In the process of rubbing the bill, a choice was made to go beyond erasure, to puncture, removing the image of George Washington entirely. The performance is a poetic act of justice, while its imaginary compensation is both a quiet protest and a fantasy of transformation.

The opportunity to perform this work with an engaged audience occurred around the publication of Tool Book Volume III Workbook Project. Without speaking I rubbed a dollar bill against a stone for ten minutes. Sounds of sanding and stone banging up against glass filled the space. My actions took place on the ground in a simple, yet ritualistic setting. Surrounding me were speakers on tripods and a grand piano. All the other artists presented their work in a lecture format that evening.

A combination of pigment, flowers, and gold leaf are intended to evoke material extraction from the earth and raise questions of value. The piece addresses labor and land, environmental collapse, global economic inequality, de-colonialist action, and the labor of craft and studio practice, as well as financial precarity.