J.S.G. Boggs

Tuesday 28 May 2002

A conversation over lunch today turned to J.S.G. Boggs: he’s an artist who draws money, not to deceive people, but to make them think. His art is all about what money means, and why it means it, and how it works.

Here’s what he does: he makes a drawing of a piece of money, then trades it for goods or services (for example, a meal in a restaurant). The drawings are very good, but they are obviously not actual money (for one thing, it is orange, for another, it is blank on one side, for another, he says, “This is a drawing; it isn’t money”). He presents the drawing to, for example, a waitress, and asks to use it in lieu of money to buy a meal. Sometimes they go for it, sometimes they don’t. If they do, what did it mean? Why is money worth something? How is the drawing different from money? Is he counterfeiting?

To answer that last question, the Federal Government has decided that he is, and is prosecuting him. Your tax dollars at work.

J.S.G.Boggs' orange fun-dollar bill

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