One dollar bills, glue, plaster
157.48 × 98.43 inches
Commissioned by the Centro Cultural de España in Mexico, in which the established production budget was entirely converted into American dollars; the bills were subse-quently affixed, by the center’s own workers, on one of the gallery walls. The wall was completely papered with one dollar bills, which were then covered with plaster and white paint in order to restore the surface to its original appearance, the money now permanently buried underneath.
In 2004, like a hidden treasure, Fritzia Irizar decided to take 800 one dollar bills and use them to cover a 157.48 × 98.43 in wall of the then-recently restored building belonging to the Centro Cultural de España (Spanish Cultural Center) in Mexico City’s historic downtown area. Immediately after using glue to line the wall with paper currency, Fritzia decided to carry out a second action, one that further emphasized the functional cancellation of the bills: she covered the wall with white plaster, creating the appearance of a smooth, white wall, identical to the others. The artist left this intervention invisible to the eye, without any perceptible distinctions; if we could predict the future, we could say that it has become a permanent element of this building.
Untitled (Wall), Fritzia highlights the transformation of an object like paper currency into a gesture that exalts our complex comprehension of the symbolic values surrounding money and the values we assign to money. The intervention allows us to glimpse a kind of aura beyond the physical object, something that remains preserved like a relic on an altar. It would even be possible to worship it there fixed, unmoving through an invisibility that grants it new qualities in accordance with its functional sacrifice. Unlike the current art sys- tem, which enables the production of material objects for international exportation, this work posits itself as an immaterial production moment: circulating today in alternative forms through images of its production process, texts like this one, or oral accounts that contribute to a myth or future rumor about what is concealed inside the wall.
Fritzia Irizar’s piece responds to the invitation she received to participate in the group exhibition Invasion, Occupation, Expansion. At that point, when she learned about the available budget for the production of a new piece, Fritzia questioned her role in the local cultural apparatus, its operation and dynamics, as well as the institution’s role as an artproducing entity. Asking herself how a cultural legacy is created in the his- torical realm and thus reflecting on decisions made by the State, the art market, and other agents in providing artistic liberties and possibilities under established conditions she decided to propose this piece, in which the predetermined context of an exhibition space (a sixteenth century building, reconstructed with an eighteenth century façade, ceded in 2002 by the Mexico City government to the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, aecid [Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development]), would act as a physical medium, given the recognized value of its architecture. The artist informed the organizers that her piece’s production costs would have to be converted into dollars as a symbolic gesture representing the status we grant this currency in Mexico: we aspire to be as great and as rich as our neighbor to the north.
Furthermore, the denial produced when the dollars are layered over with plaster indicates a predictable path toward social forgetfulness. Disregarding the symbolic object removes these bills from circulation, freezes them, and uses them to create a blank, abstract manifestation, lacking any perceptible form: an invisible layer of wall.