Birth of the monsters
Why is the dollar currency symbol a crossed out S? The most common answer goes back to that point in history when Columbus "discovered" the "new world"; A moment which quickly succeeded that when the Conquistadores massacred with enthusiasm the indigenous populations who had apparently discovered it a few millennia before him. At that time, the currency in circulation in all the Americas was not the Dollar, but the Spanish Real which remained present in the United States until the end of the eighteenth century. On the most widespread coins, there are the columns of Hercules that the good Charles V had associated in his time with the arms of his kingdom of the "old world" in honor of these new territories so promising. On these Pillar Dollars framing the two hemispheres united snaked the mention Plus Ultra, that is to say: Beyond.
Boundaries par excellence par excellence, these pilasters which tinkled since in miniatures in the pockets of the descendants of Pizzaro and Cortès were a heritage whose origin was confused with the beginnings of our era, coming from the precise place where the mythical hero of the twelve works crossed the last foothills of the known world to fight Géryon, a monster with several heads. Most of the ancient accounts located the erection of these illustrious columns in the south of Spain, in Gibraltar, that is to say on a rock between two worlds. On the one hand, civilization, on the other barbarism. It was still this geographical and intellectual arrangement which prevailed when the horizon cleared to the west, a distant West distanced by the ferocious blades of an ocean that masses of colonists would soon be crossing. more numerous, dreaming of taking from the savages a continent paved with gold in order to fulfill their trivial hopes.
Empires after empires, stories after stories, a whole Western history of displacement was summed up with a stroke of the pen in the crossed out S of the contemporary Dollar which was in reality the graphic vestige of the two columns of Hercules on which a streamer wound. And the idea of the passage from one world to another which hid finely behind me made me think of this sentence of Gramsci which quotes at the request any student of first year of Sciences-Po: "The old world is dying, the new world is slow to appear and in this chiaroscuro the monsters arise.
Today, this frightening in-between transition, this irresistible slide towards the unknown described by the philosopher resonated strangely. His critique of economism, of a materialist form of thinking which, far from opposing religion became even more obscurantist news, came close to its paroxysmal point with the ultimate commodification of a human ecosystem that was falling apart. . And, cruel irony, it was precisely an unbridled financialization, led by this Dollar with such an explicit symbol, which pushed the world in finem.
On the other side, there would be something else, obviously. Impossible to know yet. But already barbarism was winning the battle on the cultural front.
And if, in an unprecedented humanist impulse, the philosophers of the whole world, carried by the breath of this young American nation had invented formerly the universal declaration of the human rights which would undoubtedly remain for a long time one of the most beautiful ideals civilizational having never been formulated, it was also under the impulse of what had become today this nation-world which the monsters prospered. No longer Réal money, but king money, mutant money, algorithmic money, the one that made heads turn and who joined forces with the worst of totalitarianism to ruin in a few decades what others had put centuries to build, gradually made crumble under tons of cash these Herculean columns on which the weight of history rested. It was this sad observation that I was trying to shape in this photographic series.
By transforming these banknotes until they take on the appearance of strange hybrid creatures - new monsters - seeming to come out of a kaleidoscope to eat away speech and therefore thought, I hoped that enthusiasts of etymology would understand that I also tried - and perhaps despite everything - to continue to see in images and culture a last bulwark against the ugliness of times.
How long would it last?