Universität der Künste Berlin

Klasse Prof. Skopec, Visuelle Systeme

Emily Craske


NeoBucks is an alternative currency that deconstructs modern celebratory events in return of respect, homage and inquiry to topical problem-area statistics and auxiliary result of intersectional study. This alternative currency is a reminder of a turbulent history of white-washing and years of colonialization that withholds modern day consequences that must not be forgotten amongst aesthetical attempts within such capitalist state. The currency is used as a way to view the intersections of the Canadian Indigenous Peoples (Inuit, Metis and First Nations Peoples), furthermore selective problematic topics creating an in-depth visual perspective, distinguishing its issues in a different display method. This creates an altered viewpoint of Canadas “white-prioritization” in a modern assessment of current issues alongside Canadas 150th anniversary.
One key source of stimulation to further push the boundaries of what Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation celebrations mean, and further implementing the swarm of wrongfully implied optimistic impressions is the commemorative banknote that is being released (in regard to Canada’s 150th anniversary). The new confederation-celebratory banknote features four figures: Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone (Akay-na-muka). This is the first time that an Indigenous Persons or recognition is featured on a banknote. Perhaps this is a step in the right direction – but its hard to look at this ambition with complete optimism. Recognition of Indigenous Peoples is outright of importance, but putting symbols or people on a banknote that celebrates a part of a movement that destroyed a large part of their culture, pertaining to some of these issues that affect to this day – which are not getting the proper attention. It feels as if it is a cover-up and distraction to the brutal historic traits that have taken and continue to take place for the Aboriginal Peoples. Perhaps we must shift our thoughts from the romanticization of these symbols and people and look beyond the materialistic approach of recognition. This isn’t a time to celebrate – it’s a time to learn, reflect and respect. A representation of imagery on a banknote is not simply enough to work through past and current issues.

The final result of the study is the “NeoBucks prototype kit” which includes 41 banknotes and a catalogue that explains the system and a clear look at each banknote. The items are contained within a cash drawer that organizes everything as a way to display intersectional data. The system is created from mainly the look at 5 main catagories of problematic areas within these communities and furthermore 3 subcategories per main category. From there, intersectional lines were drawn between the subcategories that link together, forming the “intersectional web”. After viewing the breakdown of the distribution of data, each main category was assigned an amount and a colour by using the carcass of the Canadian monetary system. 5 banknotes were created as a result, and then to display the intersections, these bills were split in half and stitched back together to create new banknote amounts.
The idea is to not create an answer or attempt to create any design-solution to these current issues that are being highlighted, nor to further appropriate cultural means but to simply highlight, speculate and create discussion upon the political viewpoints of Canada and its deepened problematic issues that become recognized and unresolved through the use of imagery in a celebratory banknote.
The intersectional web created and based on consulted problematic areas of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, generates an “alternative currency” whilst exploiting the carcass of the Canada’s existing currency in circulation (banknotes only, note*). This is furthermore, based on the idea of Canada placing an image of an Indigenous Persons on the 2017 celebratory banknote without properly addressing issues within these communities in reality, upholding a clean Canadian image. Able to present and foster issues that are relevant within this alternative wireframe, it further pushes the boundaries of the trade in of optimistic politics and false-pretenses in place for an illustration of 150 years of colonialism. The NeoBucks prototype kit begins to erase buoyant deceptions of Canada using imagery and design as its chosen and noted privileged platform and is wealthy in statistics that are of importance to discuss and question.