Spent, 2020 / Found objects and paint / 65 x 16 x 60 inches
Anderson Gallery Parking Lot / Buffalo, NY
Part of PLAY/GROUND, curated by Resource:Art and Buffalo Institute of Contemporary Art
Photo: Nando Alvarez-Perez
Spent is a discarded ATM with additional found objects exploding from its screen and other openings in its surface. This uncooperative machine suggests the promise of cash, and instead delivers an aggressive vomiting-up of household objects – perhaps someone’s treasured belongings; perhaps trash. It reflects legacies of disinvestment laid bare by Covid-19, now causing economic hardship rivaling the Great Depression. In the 1930s, bank runs led to bank failures; Spent is a symbol of such failure – the dry spigot, as many American jobs do not return, and government aid packages fall short. Instead of financial relief, this machine spits out a crutch and a hockey stick, forks and knives, old toys and broken electronics.
Like previous projects, it also addresses how technology changes the shape of everything, and makes “stuff” disappear. Cash has already been removed from many monetary transactions; and it’s even more scarce during Covid-19 as we opt for “no-touch” payments. ATMs may soon go the way of the payphone and boombox, the dictionary and the atlas, all now replaced by smaller, sleeker, “smart” alternatives with little material presence. Spent reflects and anticipates transitions from cash to Venmo to Bitcoin.