SHOW ME THE MONEY: THE IMAGE OF FINANCE, 1700 TO THE PRESENT

The failures in the global financial system that occurred in 2008 were experienced as a crisis because they were confusing and chaotic. The causes and implications of the event appeared to be too complex, too impenetrable and too surprising to be understood. The Queen herself – estimated to have lost £25 million in the crash – was reported to have asked, when visiting the London School of Economics that autumn, ‘if this crisis was so large’ then how ‘did everyone miss it?’ As the works presented in Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present suggest, financial processes are often difficult to see not in spite, but precisely because, of their vast size. Finance – money, investment, credit, debt – is the air we breathe, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to get an objective view of an atmosphere that envelops us so completely.

The images, objects, narratives and artworks that make up this exhibition explore the ways in which finance has become a dazzlingly sophisticated and globally interconnected phenomenon that requires us to think anew about the ways in which we understand time and space: money is instant; it is everywhere and nowhere. Show Me the Money highlights the ways in which art and culture have allowed us to explore the increasingly abstract and self-referential nature of finance, the complexity of its operations that are virtually impossible for those on the outside to envisage. Yet the four locations of the exhibition also suggest ways in which this overarching narrative of finance is complicated by the particularities of place: finance may be everywhere, but its meanings and effects vary markedly from one site to another