"Can you get any finance people to come to the opening tomorrow?" the curator asked. Friday afternoon at TRANSFER Gallery
in Bushwick, OC was previewing Spanish artist Claudia Maté
's new exhibit Sweet Finances!
, which would open officially the next day. The walls were covered with prints of market data, colorful arrangements of lines and dots that we might have mistaken for spilled Skittles had we not known they were from Yahoo! Finance. In an installation at the center of the room, eight screens hovered around a rug in the shape of a $100 bill. "It's the Bloomberg terminal," Maté explained, pointing to a Macbook whose keyboard was stuck with fake terminal command stickers she bought on Amazon (the real thing is available via Bloomberg L.P. for a yearly subscription
Wall Street represents different things to different people: power, success, the 1%, Illuminati conspiracy. For Maté, it's an aesthetic. Like many artists right now, her work explores the relationship between art and money, though not in the expected way. Instead of highlighting the commodity status of art objects à la Jeff Koons, Maté explores the artistry of commodity markets. "Forget the meaning behind the data––Maté’s landscapes represent the beauty of financial data on its own terms," according to the press release.
Finance wields enormous influence over the art world, and Maté is turning the tables, reprogramming financial data according to her own artistic vision. In one of the two apps she created for the show, avatars based on photos of real London bankers (striped ties, grey suits, receding hairlines) cycle between emotions of joy and fury as stock prices of various companies rise and fall. Like the faux-terminal, it's cartoony and tongue-in-cheek. Still, the exhibit doesn't let you forget that somewhere in the world, a living, breathing, possibly balding man could be sobbing over this very data. "IMPORTANT! All the stock markets worldwide have been closed," the release warned showgoers on Saturday. "Please do not make financial decisions based on this data."
In another app, which will be available online via DIS
later this month, the user chooses a stock, a date range, and a color palette, and is presented with a unique visual rendering which they can purchase as a physical print via PayPal, for prices ranging from $500 to $1,000. Who does Maté expect will buy them? "If I worked in finance, I would buy this," she said. "It's a perfect excuse to buy art." At the same time, she admitted, it's not always easy to get flush Wall Streeters to art openings, particularly in Bushwick. "[Brooklyn] is far," Maté said. "And they don't always like art."
Through August 2 every Saturday from 2-7 PM, or by appointment
1030 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211