Strips of bills of different denominations
2.3 × 5.9 inches
The piece was produced by cutting two millimeter strips from the edges of differently valued bills, then combining the strips from many bills in order to create a new one. This mechanism sprang from an interest in creating a version of this economic tool, based on tiny “thefts” from the currency of different countries, which were put into circulation after parts of them had been removed.
Fritzia Irizar is among the Mexican artists to have best understood the critical possibilities of minimal gestures. Pilferage involves a deceptively simple subversion: it is based on the kind of idea that strikes only rarely, an idea with a spontaneous inventiveness that evokes an entire process. Cutting a tiny fraction from many real bills and fashioning a new one from the pieces has the air of a good joke, but in our present age of huge tax frauds in the business sector and financial catastrophes that destroy millions of people’s lives, an allusion to imperceptible theft acquires unusual power. One smiles to think that the new bill, although made from the same material, will never be as valuable as the real one. But common sense is sometimes wrong. Reality is different. The new bill, in its status as a work of art, is probably worth hundreds of times more than any single bill, and it is also liable to become an object of speculation for collectors, museums, etc. Its value may grow exponentially. Irizar has performed an act of financial alchemy that would make any wolf of Wall Street proud. I wouldn’t be surprised if this work became a classic, an emblem of sorts, representing a decade in which our awareness of the global economic system’s catastrophic dysfunctionality increased in painful measure. We are hurt not only by the defenselessness to which neoliberal economics have subjected us. Pilferage, too, takes advantage of our difficulties and shows us the unbearable immensity of our own world, the human world.