Money does sort of grow on trees; the old fashioned grubby paper kind of money anyway, not the new frictionless, contactless money. Unfortunately, what we do with it, the stuff we buy, is not easily returned to the earth. And so much of what is done to make more of it is against nature; forcefully, even belligerently so.
'Monopoly', Yuken Teruya’s new show at the Pippy Houldsworth gallery in London, takes on these ideas. But this is no head-banging agitprop. Rather, the Japanese artist simply lets nature sprout and blossom on cold, hard – but not inorganic – cash. Miniature forestations rise out of Monopoly boards or pop out of Euros, using its materials and casting a shadow; stacked dollar bills become sturdy tree trunks, branches reaching out for sunlight and rain; McDonald’s bags shelter paper trees, replicas of those founds in Central Park (the great man-made nature reserve that brings a sudden halt to the Fifth Avenue shopping spree); autumn leaves, cast in bronze and gold are inscribed with serial codes, dollar denominations and phrases from Monopoly cards. It’s a pretty simple device, of course – and the effect is jarring but oddly becalming and resonant.
Meanwhile, in the gallery’s ‘micro-project’ space, The Box, is Gavin Turk’s sort-of sight gag Water Biscuit. First shown in 2010, possibly with a different biscuit, the piece is essentially a half-full (half-empty?) half-pint glass of water with a biscuit jammed or perhaps floating half way up. The glass becomes a vitrine within a vitrine and the biscuit a metaphorical marker of a sunny or cloudy disposition. A limited edition print version of the piece work, Half and Half, is now available.