James Howard’s first solo show at 21 Fleet Street will include millions of dollars in wads of ‘Black Money’, loaded onto pallets and stuffed into suitcases and trunks.
All too regularly, internet scammers persuade their victims that cases full of black paper actually contain cash that has been dyed to avoid detection by customs. Blinded by greed, victims then hand over large sums of money for non-existent chemicals to wash the ‘Dirty Dollars’. Of course, at the end of the expensive transaction they are left with cases full of worthless black paper and an embarrassing story for the police.
Howard’s artwork adopts the techniques used by shady modern day internet scammers. Every day for months, the artist collected bundles of newspapers before cutting them to 100 dollar bill size. Sprayed black, they were then loaded into thousands of official US currency straps sourced from the American Federal Reserve. The installation is made up of cases, trunks and altar-like stacks of cash – each one an offering to avarice.
Along the walls, a series of 100 call cards – reminiscent of London’s phone box ‘Tart Cards’ – peddle the empty promise of chemicals to clean the money. Each one claims to be from a different company, honest and able to do the job – but they all have the same phone number, which, like the internet variety, goes straight to answering machine: “Please leave your full name, country, passport number, bank details and we will get back to you.”
James Howard was born in 1981 in Canterbury and studied fine art at Reading University and the Royal Academy Schools, London. His multi-disciplinary practice ranges from brash digital advertising campaigns to large-scale sculpture and installation.
James Howard regularly exhibits in London and internationally. He is included in the forthcoming Saatchi Gallery show: 'The Power of Paper' and has been recently exhibited alongside Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Takeshi Murakami in the UK touring exhibition: 'Plastic Culture - The Legacy of Pop'.
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21 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1AA