Exposities

Nucleus of Capital

Nina Støttrup Larsen
17.04.2021 - 16.05.2021
Nijmegen

Wegens de huidige lockdown vindt Nucleus of Capital online plaats. Houd onze social media en website in de gaten voor het programma! Bekijk hier de film over de expositie gemaakt door Koen Kievits, waarin artistiek leider van POST Youri Appelo een introductie geeft en Nina Støttrup Larsen en Anna Bitkina meer vertellen over de show. Lees ook hier de leaflet met bijlage van de tenstoonstelling, vormgegeven door Studio Questionmark.

Nucleus of Capital is een tentoonstelling van de in Amsterdam gevestigde kunstenaar Nina Støttrup Larsen (geboren in Denemarken), waarin de afgeschermde verbindingen tussen Frankrijk en Europese Unie enerzijds en de monetaire unie, de CFA-frank, anderzijds, centraal staat. De CFA-frank is de officiële munteenheid in veertien Afrikaanse staten, opgericht door Frankrijk in 1945. Terwijl andere Europese koloniale machten hun monetaire controle beëindigden toen de koloniën onafhankelijk werden in de jaren vijftig en zestig, is Frankrijk tot op de dag van vandaag de monetaire processen blijven beheren en besturen. Visueel, taalkundig en historisch gezien wordt dit koloniale continuüm in geheimen gehuld, waardoor het feit dat dit een belangrijke subvaluta van de euro is, grotendeels onbekend is, althans in Europa.

In de tentoonstelling in POST presenteert Nina Støttrup Larsen nieuw werk binnen haar langdurige onderzoek naar extra-Europese monetaire controle, dat eerder in verschillende tentoonstellings- en performatieve vormen is gepresenteerd op de Academie Schloss Solitude (2018) en de Bergen Assembly (2019). De tentoonstelling stelt een alternatieve numismatische praktijk voor om de abstracte lijnen van het kapitaal te koppelen aan de concrete, zichtbare vorm van het bankbiljet. Nucleus of Capital is gecureerd door Anna Bitkina en zal de eerste vertoning van het project in Nederland zijn.

Onderstaande tekst, geschreven door curator Anna Bitkina, is vooralsnog alleen beschikbaar in het Engels:

Nucleus of Capital
In Search for a New Numismatic Practice 

Nina Støttrup Larsen’s exhibition Nucleus of Capital is part of an ongoing artistic investigation of European power structures and racial capitalism. Støttrup Larsen utilises the concept of Eurafrica and examines the history of European integration, closely tied to legacies of colonialism. The advocates of Eurafrica, a concept that was developed in the early 1920s, sought for more effective and profitable management of the colonies and resources from the African continent. This ‘political project and geopolitical constellation’ played a crucial role in the early development of the European Union. Eurafrica gained its actual political impact after World War II but during the process of decolonization this concept was largely forgotten and sanitised out of the EU’s vocabulary to fit a contemporary discourse.


Image: Overview Nucleus of Capital (2021) 

To examine the evidence of the so-called post-colonial present in the EU, Støttrup Larsen researches the CFA Franc (in 1945 incorporated as Franc of the French Colonies in Africa) - the official currency issued in 14 states of West and Central Africa, the former colonies of France. While other European countries ended their monetary control when the colonies were granted  independence in the 1950s and early 1960s, France has continued to manage and govern monetary processes in the region until today. Visually, linguistically and historically, this colonial continuum remains obscured in Europe since the 1960s, which results in the fact that this current major sub-currency of the Euro is little known about, at least in Europe. The exhibition brings to light and bolsters public discourse around these camouflaged processes by which the French and EU economy undermined the sovereignty of the 14 states in the CFA zone.

Nucleus of Capital demonstrates the extended decolonizing possibilities of numismatic practice by focusing on the banknote as an object, as a witness and as a central piece of evidence for the Eurafrican motivation in contemporary European infrastructures. Containing a wealth of information engraved into the surface of the paper with icons and motifs that hold many political and historical features, the banknotes are a visual nucleus in an otherwise shielded ‘invisible’ economic power construct.


Image: Watermarks (2021)

Study Sites
The process of studying the history and current state of Franс CFA lead Nina Støttrup Larsen through a variety of materials, visual research, economic reports, consults with numismatic experts, site visits around The Banque de France and its money printing facilities, in addition to talks with activists and economists from Senegal, Togo, France, and within the EU. During the last four years she has composed an impressive compilation of archival documents and case studies, different formats of prints, and a rich set of research materials including images, maps and diagrams. At the exhibition, they are distributed throughout the space and form clustered sites of knowledge and references.

There is a large black and white paper print - an enlarged page from the ‘Atlas of Europe’ of 1942 with a cartographic representation of Eurafrica. The long printed diagram on the table includes quotes by various African leaders and politicians who wanted to exit the CFA monetary zone but were punished by the system. The diagram also contains the opinions of economists stressing the disadvantages of the ‘peg’ of the CFA Franc to the Euro. Such a relation works in favor of the European economy, which receives goods, services and natural resources at a significantly lower price. In addition, a chart presents the administrative domination of the EU banking system within the macroeconomic infrustructures of the banking system and monetary unions in Central and West Africa.

The lighboxes on display show scanned and radiographed banknotes. For example, a watermark of Marianne, a symbol of ‘The French Republic’, is incorporated into the CFA Franc.

Video loop “Other Functions” depicts the print facility at the French Central Bank in Chamalières. Constructed from found and re-edited footage taken from various sources, the work portrays part of the production process of the Euro, yet it is the same machines and the same crew who print the CFA Franc. From the mixing of the white cotton pulp, control checks, the buttons pressed, the team of the French Central bank navigates the production of the currency. 


Image: Artist’s collection of 60 original CFA banknotes from 1945–2020

Landscape of Eurafrica 
The central feature of the exhibition is the rich visuality and aesthetics of the CFA Franc banknotes. The new video “The Cut, The Press, The Punch'' proposes a new practice of visual decoding of the banknotes, drawing attention to their material history, process of production and political manifestations.

The video is constructed as a visual journey across the surface of CFA Francs and includes fragments of more than 40 banknotes designed between 1945 and 2003. The camera zooms in on the patterns engraved into the banknotes and depicts an abstraction of uranium mines, the oil drilling industry, coffee farming, the timber industry.

“In these lines, in these cuts, in all of this pressure of the printing press we find very abstract but at the same time very concrete scenes. Eurafrica can’t be an official narrative any longer but we can speculate on whether the lines of the cartography of Eurafrica are here, in the landscape of these banknotes. We find Eurafrican colonial ideology continuously pressed onto this paper, we see an ongoing production line of colonial ideology. A territory that has been cut up, cut open, excavated, being managed and produced into these series of banknotes. They are everywhere but we don’t really look at them, although they carry the weight of these economic institutions and represent the entire power structure. Now many of the states in the CFA zone are in serious discussions to form their own currency union ‘the Eco’, and it is incredibly important that Europe doesn’t hinder that again”, - says Nina Støttrup Larsen about her work.

There are a number of additional elements that form the exhibition installation including the carpet, curtain and painted wall, which refers to the similarity in recent design, production and economic relations between the Franc CFA and Euro. The dusty green color of the curtains resembles the 5 Eur banknote and 5000 CFA. The blue color of the carpet and the wall was obtained from the color range of 20 Eur and 1000 CFA. The particular shape of the carpet recalls the engraver’s cuts to create lines for the motifs on CFA banknotes.


Image: An enlarged page from the ‘Atlas of Europe’ of 1942 with a cartographic representation of Eurafrica

Over de kunstenaar en curator:

Nina Støttrup Larsen zet artistieke strategieën en langdurig onderzoek in als instrument om mondiale machtsstructuren in relatie tot economie, juridische infrastructuren, geopolitiek en het (post-)koloniale heden in kaart te brengen. Ze werkt met documenten, data, teksten en video, en materialiseert haar werk in verschillende edities van installaties, performances en publicaties. Nina was een fellow van de Jan van Eyck Academie (NL), Academie Schloss Solitude (DE) en een resident van de Cité Internationale des Arts (FR). Ze werkte samen met het tijdschrift De Groene Amsterdammer, en nam deel aan verschillende kunstfestivals in Dakar (SN), Port au Prince (HA), Saint Denis (La Reunion, FR). Haar installatie 'Mercurial Relations' over koloniale valuta, de West-Afrikaanse CFA franc en de manipulatie ervan door de Franse schatkist en de Europese Centrale Bank was onderdeel van de laatste Bergen Assembly (2019).

Anna Bitkina is curator van visuele hedendaagse kunst, performatieve projecten en educatieve programma's. In haar curatoriële praktijk verbindt ze theorie, sociale wetenschap, geschiedenis en filosofie om kennis te genereren over de hedendaagse realiteit en haar sociaal-politieke omstandigheden. In haar projecten (vaak duratief) verkent ze het terrein van kunst en hedendaags cureren om de opkomende politieke en ecologische uitdagingen aan te gaan in een tijd van versneld kapitalisme, technologische alomtegenwoordigheid en een sterke toename van complexiteit. Anna is medeoprichter van TOK, een curatorencollectief en een op onderzoek gebaseerde kunstorganisatie die in 2010 samen met Maria Veits werd opgericht. In 2020 was TOK de winnaar van de apexart Open Call 2020-2021 (tentoonstelling 'Voicing the Silence’ wordt gepresenteerd in Moskou in CCA Fabrica in de zomer van 2021). In het najaar van 2021 cureert TOK de hoofdtentoonstelling op de 6e editie van de Photomonth Biënnale in Tallinn.

Background image credit: Nina Støttrup Larsen, video still, draft (5000 CFA banknote, 1974, factory, president and French-owned uranium mine), 2021.

Extra info

Kijk hier Nina Støttrup Larsen's film The Cut, The Punch, The Press, 14:40 min, 2021 (Dubbelklik voor volledig scherm):

Extra info

Kijk hier Nina Støttrup Larsen's film The Cut, The Punch, The Press, 14:40 min, 2021 (Dubbelklik voor volledig scherm):