“In a capitalist society cash rules everything, society teaches us that you can buy love, happiness, and status through possessions. You can even right wrongs by taking away a bit of someone’s happiness through fines and lawsuits. Politicians buy votes through claims of lowering taxes, in other words letting us hold on to a little more status…” Dan Tague
New Orleans and Los Angeles based artist Dan Tague has been using money to bring the social issues he lamented in the quote above to light. For his piece “Money Talks”, he photographed folded dollar bills displaying written statements like “We need a revolution”, “Don’t tread on me”, and “Trust no one”, with these pieces being a hybrid of sculpture, photography and found art in which his strong political statements are at once familiar and serve to trigger our conscious thought of injustices we already know to be happening.
Through his work, Tague is criticizing how our basic freedoms are compromised to protect our more capitalist interests by way of military aggression costing billions of dollars, which leads to economic strain resulting in job loss, decline in education, and maintain restrictions in medical resources for citizens. Further explaining the background of his work and how the cost of war has created an internal war on our economy, Tague includes a quote by the American politician Charles Sumner from the 1800s saying: “Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth.” Tague is understood not only as a multimedia artist and curator, but also an activist, and the appeal and power of money are the issues at the core of this series.