The Great Swindle, Santiago Montoya
Aware that the same key symbols have been appropriated by different nations through history, Montoya further explores cross-cultural referencing with his use of repeated icons (boats, dollar symbols and stars) in series such as Wishing Stars. While a white star can suggest the American Revolution, a red star resonates with communism, each case acting as an index for a collective ethos. In the Wishing Stars series, a DC3 plane is emblazoned as a symbol of hope and freedom upon a Chinese 2-fen food coupon. Used during rationing as part of Mao's regime, the coupon belies the innocence in the title of the work, leading us to review what it is we are wishing for and the potential results of such idealism.
The clichéd titles of Montoya's work add an element of humour to the exhibition, making the often complex subject matter more accessible, looking to bring everyone into the conversation and encourage debate. The piece Fish and Ships, an installation of 30 fishing boats gathered into a net, uses this humour as an invitation for the viewer to speculate upon themes of mass consumption and production.
With observation as opposed to judgment, Montoya opens up discussion for a myriad of topics surrounding systems of value and how these systems shape us as individuals, nations and even as a global race. Through using works as aesthetic carriers for these ideas he leads us to explore the notions of worth and wealth creation, building an exhibition in which appearance and concept are allowed to bear equal weight.
Halcyon Gallery is working with CNBC, the business and financial news network, as a media partner for The Great Swindle www.cnbc.com