Stock market chaos in China is rocking global finance, but at 303 Gallery this evening, the stakes will be a bit lower (and more aesthetically pleasing). Sarah Meyohas is launching a solo show that uses the fluctuating value of artist-bought stocks to create corresponding oilstick-on-canvas paintings. Meyohas, who has an educational background in international relations and finance in addition to fine art, will be purchasing a portfolio of stocks and then visualizing their performance. It isnt the first time her work has mingled aspects of her unique background: Meyohas is also the creator of Bitchcoin, a cheeky alt-currency whose value is based on the selling price of her own art. I chatted with the artist about what to expect at 303 Gallery, where she kicks things off with a lecture this evening at 7pm.
Did you initially have ambitions toward a career in finance, before deciding to pursue fine art?
I thought I would end up in finance. Then, when I decided to be an artist, I figured I had left it behind. I was wrong on both counts! But instinct knew something that I didn’t. It was only by trusting my gut in making educational choices that I ended up in this strange, magic middle of a Venn diagram.
How have the sale of Bitchcoins been going thus far?
They sold out and they increased in value! More than the S&P! Or Bitcoin!
You’re beginning this project in a pretty rough time for the markets. How do you imagine this drama might affect the way the project plays out over the next few weeks?
It’s a good thing that I’m trading on the NYSE instead of in China. All the paintings would have turned out the same…a vertical drop followed by a horizontal line.
There has been a lot of volatility on the markets recently. As I write this, the Dow has just dropped significantly. But, it is always uncertainty that creates space for creativity…
What sort of stocks will you be buying?
Not Apple, or Google, or any stocks you have ever heard of. They are stocks whose volume traded is low enough that my trades are large enough to affect the price.
Can you describe the performative element involved as you make these market-derived paintings?
Each painting will represent a different stock. The period of time in each painting may range, from an hour to a day, or even more. So the exhibition as a whole is the art portfolio (no pun intended).
Obviously the paintings that result from tracking stock performance might eventually end up resembling other things: the peaks and valleys of mountain ranges, for instance, or the boxy forms of a city skyline. In what ways would you say you use this raw data to create an art object, rather than just a chart or infographic?
These paintings are data visualizations. But the key point is that I have a hand in that data. The creative act is two-fold — first, engaging in market activity without the purpose of economic gain, but [to create visual change., and then creating the painting as a physical record which echoes these price movements. On the painting, which always has the most elusive form of value, is drawn a line that literally is value, determined by my trades.
Let’s say the head of a hedge fund decided to buy some of these paintings. Would that amuse you, depress you, or something in between?
Markets are always linked. In this case, the paintings act as different kind of link, as the financial market is physically realized into a painting that is then circulated in the art market. I’m just curious to see where they end up.
Youre also producing a limited edition book that incorporate gold nano-particle paint. Can you explain?
Gold nano-particles cannot be seen with the naked eye. But, they have a property called surface plasmon resonance that emits color in the visible spectrum. Not only that, this color depends on the shape and size of the nanoparticle. To me, this is mind-boggling– gold, on the very border of being, having a relation with light based on its form to create color. I can make paint that has different colors…with no pigment, just infinitesimally tiny bits of gold. I’m just going to be putting the as swatches in the book, as a hint to future work.