Picturing Finance: An Exhibition on the Visual Imagination of Financial Capitalism

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures

Abstract

As the Financial Services Authority's Turner Review (2009) of the current global financial crisis insisted, "Intellectual challenge to conventional wisdoms [that the market is 'efficient, rational, and self correcting'] is essential." Likewise the recent annual report of Chartered Financial Analyst Society of the UK warned that a lack of historical knowledge among institutional investors was a factor behind the current crisis (see Mundy 2011). The aim of this project is to make the insights of the New History of Capitalism available to a wider audience through the creation of a public exhibition at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art (Sunderland) and accompanying catalogue and website on visual representations of Anglo-American financial capitalism over the last three centuries; together with an accompanying seminar that will bring together artists, writers, journalists and key figures from the financial and regulatory sectors; and an educational outreach programme for school children. By emphasising how finance has been imagined and represented in different historical moments and cultures - and indeed, by drawing attention to the very difficulty of picturing "the market" as a whole - this exhibition is designed to stimulate public debate about how a particular myth of the rational market came to be naturalised and how seemingly impenetrable complexities of finance have repeatedly mesmerised the public at different historical moments. The visual representation of financial capitalism is an underexplored research area in its own right, but an exhibition on this theme provides an exciting opportunity to engage the wider public and the media with the central intellectual concerns of the New History of Capitalism, at a time when the British public is all too painfully aware of the terrifying power of high finance. This would be the first exhibition to provide a broad historical overview of the visual imagination of finance. It thus constitutes both an important research achievement in its own right as well as an innovative way of making accessible to the public the idea that markets are not governed by immutable economic laws but are culturally and historically constructed.

Planned Impact

This research project will benefit the general public; school children via an educational outreach programme to be organised by the gallery; the financial services industry, and creative practitioners seeking to represent and engage with them; and policy makers seeking to understand and regulate the practices of the financial sector. The exhibition will be aimed at a non-specialist audience. Its history of visual representations of finance will enhance popular understanding of how the "myth of the rational market" has been constructed historically, and will therefore stimulate much needed public debate on the nature and proper role of high finance in the UK economy.

The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland has been uniquely successful in creating public debate. Previous touring exhibitions have reached 122,000 visitors; secured major coverage in every national broadsheet across the political and social spectrum, from the Financial Times and Telegraph to the Guardian and Independent; and seen publications with print runs of 2000-4000 sold out. We imagine that this exhibit will gain an immediate audience of between 7500-9000 which will be increased to between 8500-12000 through an online presence. We also estimate a press coverage reaching between 60,000-550,000 readers. As the collapse of Northern Rock signalled the beginning of the current financial crisis, it is fitting that the exhibition should be located in the North East.

The seminar for invited artists, academics, journalists, public intellectuals, and senior figures from the banking and regulatory sector will offer a range of professionals the opportunity for understanding how financial services are viewed by those external to it, and some of the hidden assumptions built into the industry, and will help generate debate in the media for the exhibition and the themes that it explores. Finally, the PDRA will gain research skills, as well as significant experience in working with third sector organisations to translate academic research into public events.

Publications

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Marsh, N. (2013) Show Me the Money: The Culture of Neoliberalism in New Formations

 
Title Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present 
Description 'Show Me The Money' is an exhibition that charts how the financial world has been imagined in art, illustration, photography and other visual media over the last three centuries in Britain and the United States. Includes newly commissioned artworks: Cornford and Cross, 'Black Narcissus' Immo Klink, City of London photography Jane Lawson, 'Bioremediation' Simon Roberts, 'Let This Be A Sign' 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Strong attendance at four geographically dispersed venues (Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; Chawton House Library, Hampshire; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; People's History Museum, Manchester). Visitor feedback testifies to significant impact on public reflection on, and understanding of, issues raised. Widespread coverage in regional, national, and international media (e.g. Guardian, Times, Independent, Financial Times, BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, BBC News web site, the Morning Star, video for AHRC web site, The Journal [North East], Evening Chronicle [Newcastle], Hampshire Chronicle, Radio Solent, The Crack [North East]. 
URL http://www.imageoffinance.com/
 
Description Historical and cultural approaches are necessary for a full understanding of economics.
Exploitation Route Efforts are being made (by e.g. the Bank of England, Rethinking Economics) to revise the Economics curriculum, and our research network provided useful support for these initiatives.
Sectors Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Our research explored the social, cultural and political meanings that are wielded by finance's cultural representations. By sharing insights into the significance and history of these forms, that give shape and meaning to what are otherwise often complex and abstract concepts, this research changed not only the public perceptions of money and finance (over 75,000 people have engaged with this research) but also cultural institutions and their curators, arts and literary practitioners, policy makers and educationalists.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Creative Economy,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Arts Council England Grants for the Arts
Amount £13,500 (GBP)
Funding ID 26208276 
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 10/2015
 
Description Humanities Strategic Investment Fund
Amount £7,200 (GBP)
Organisation University of Manchester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2014 
End 01/2016
 
Description School Impact Support Fund
Amount £4,367 (GBP)
Organisation University of Edinburgh 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 05/2015
 
Description Chawton 
Organisation Chawton House Library
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-curation (including researching and sourcing exhibits; writing and editing accompanying book; planning layout; writing wall text; organising launch events; liaising with media).
Collaborator Contribution Co-curation; provision of exhibits from collection; provision of exhibition space; installation of exhibition; publicity; catering/accommodation/staffing for launch event.
Impact Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present (exhibition tour)
Start Year 2013
 
Description Hansard 
Organisation University of Southampton
Department John Hansard Gallery
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Co-curation (including researching and sourcing exhibits; writing and editing accompanying book; planning layout; writing wall text; organising launch events; liaising with media).
Collaborator Contribution Co-curation; provision of exhibition space; arrangment of transportation, insurance, etc. for exhibits; installation of exhibition; publicity.
Impact Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present (exhibition tour)
Start Year 2013
 
Description NGCA 
Organisation Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Co-curation (including researching and sourcing exhibits; writing and editing accompanying book; planning layout; writing wall text; organising launch events; liaising with media).
Collaborator Contribution Co-curation; provision of exhibition space; arrangment of transportation, insurance, etc. for exhibits; installation of exhibition; publicity.
Impact Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present (exhibition) Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present (edited book) Commissioned artworks by Cornford and Cross, Immo Klink, Jane Lawson, Simon Roberts
Start Year 2012
 
Description PHM 
Organisation People's History Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Co-curation (including researching and sourcing exhibits; writing and editing accompanying book; planning layout; writing wall text; organising launch events; liaising with media).
Collaborator Contribution Co-curation; provision of exhibits from collection; provision of exhibition space; arrangment of transportation, insurance, etc. for exhibits; installation of exhibition; publicity.
Impact Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present (exhibition tour)
Start Year 2013
 
Title Show Me the Money app 
Description 'Show Me the Money' is an app for children and adults that contains fun games, activities, facts and information relating to the world of money, finance, trading and investment. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Download stats and online feedback testify to widespread use, enjoyment, and enhancement of understanding on part of users. Use of app with school pupils as part of teaching resources accompanying exhibition identified as particularly effective. 
URL https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/show-me-the-money/id879456771?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
 
Description Show Me the Money Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, and profile of the project on BBC News website (Your Money section)

Additional visitors to the exhibition and the project website, and further media inquiries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045xvw4