Limits to Growth (Part 2) Numismatics: A Study of Dead and Dying Currencies and the True Value of Waste

Research output: Non-textual formCommissioned or Visual ArtworkResearch


Research Background
Nicholas Mangan’s Limits for Growth Part 2 (Numismatics: a study of dead and dying currencies and the true value of waste) was commissioned for the 11th Gwangju Biennale in 2016. Building on his major research project Limits for Growth, ‘Part 2’ interrogates modes of financial exchange through digital technologies, while reflecting on low-tech currencies such as the large stone coin known as Rai, a form of money previously used in Micronesia. Mangan further investigated Rai to see what else this history could reveal about contemporary currency.

Research Contribution
Mangan focused on a narrative from 1871, when shipwrecked immigrant David O’Keefe arrived in Yap, Micronesia. O’Keefe convinced the Yapese to trade coconut meat in exchange for a sea vessel and tools to transport and produce more of their Rai stones. These changes proliferated the stones’ creation at such a rate that it subjected Rai to dramatic inflation. For the Biennale, Mangan developed a methodology that translates parts of this history into a sculptural and photographic framework. Mangan installed a printer which reproduced images of the Rai exponentially faster and cheaper than ‘Part 1’, which had 6 analogue photographs. This new digital method yielded 150+ images, acting as a microcosm for the inflation rates caused by O’Keefe and commenting on the turbulent fluctuation of currency and cryptocurrency today.

Research Significance
The Biennale was curated by greatly respected curators Binna Choi and Maria Lind and ‘Part 2’ was listed as a highlight in internationally significant publication ‘Frieze’. In 2017 it was included in solo exhibition Limits to Growth, KW Institut, Berlin and group exhibitions, Manipulate the World, Moderna Museet, Stockholm and The National, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW). AGNSW commissioned and acquired a new filmic component. 'Part 2' received widespread critical acclaim, including reviews in Berlin Artlink, EyeContact, and ArtReview. The work was partially funded by Creative Victoria.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGwangju, South Korea
PublisherThe Gwangju Bienniale
Size7 min 56 sec
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event11th Gwangju Biennale: The Eight Climate (What Does Art Do?) - Gwangju, Korea, South
Duration: 2 Sept 20166 Nov 2016

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