Think of it as Money! A Solo Project by Adrià Julià

  • The Little Bird that Eats Stones Knows What Kind of Ass It Has (4306), 2019, mixed media, 16.54x23.39 in, copyright © Adrià Julià

Think of it as Money! presents a constellation of artworks, in which the legacy of Hercule Florence—the 19th century French inventor—is the protagonist of a durational dreamscape, one in which money is the shapeshifting medium, bending and stretching through time. From Florence’s attempt to invent a Brazilian banknote—at once reproducible as currency and irreproducible as forgery—we land up in the mid 20th century of Dee Hock’s invention of the Visa card, a precursor to the 21st century derivative driven financial crisis when both the US Dollar and Brazilian Real fell. Along the way, Julià makes a detour through early photography—Florence hand also experimented on a different photographic technique than that of Daguerre and Niepce. The entwined history of money and photography therefore aligns with the history of colonialism, de-colonialism and post-colonialism, all of which is bound up with imperialism’s long history of extractivist practices, the Anthropocene’s origin story. Meanwhile, the fate of “new money” lies in our unforeseeable future, the ‘event horizon’ of which is blockchain and cryptocurrency. Mythologically, crypto has been evangelized by the likes of Peter Thiel and Elon Musk as being immaterial and autonomous, though they very much are not. Witness the dirtiness of crypto mining factories—each bitcoin transaction consumes 1,173 kilowatts—and the fall of Silicon Valley Bank, whose $200 billion in assets was a lifeline to crypto.

In this exhibition, Julià literally works through this dreamscape—each image, sculpture or film being a performative artifact of the outmoded processes specific to the long history of making money and photography. In a digital world, one might ask: What could be more outmoded than the banknote, at a time when global markets are trending towards a cashless society? For instance, in Sweden—by way of Swish, a cooperation between six of the largest banks in Sweden—cash is now used for less than 15 percent of Swedes’ daily transactions. True, the global future will more likely be cash-light than fully cashless, but the hegemony of digital wallets is deeply problematic because cash and carry consumers are relegated to the margins. Meaning, whenever something’s outmoded, there’s always an attendant politic symptom. This is the context in which Julià, following the Surrealists, doubles down on the outmoded banknote. As Walter Benjamin said, the surrealists “perceived the revolutionary energies that appear in the ‘outmoded,’ in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, grand pianos, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them.” Adrià Julià is one such fellow traveler to the surrealists, and Think of it as Money!  is his contemporary dreamscape.


Adrià Julià is a visual artist working with film, photography, performance, sculpture and printed matter. His work questions obsolete and contemporary image-making technologies and their relation to normative narratives and systemic violence. His most recent solo exhibition was held at Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brazil and at La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona. Other solo shows have taken place in institutions such as Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Tabakalera, San Sebastian; Project Art Center, Dublin; Museo Tamayo, Ciudad de México; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; LAXART, Los Angeles; Artists Space, New York; Insa Art Space, Seoul; and Galeria Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid. Julià has taken part in group shows at the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul; Lyon Biennale, Lyon; Generali Foundation, Vienna; 7th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre; Akademie der Künste, Berlin. He has been awarded fellowships by the American Academy Berlin, Botín Foundation, California Community Foundation, Art Matters, American Center Foundation and La Caixa Foundation.

A Solo Project by Adrià Julià
Juli Carson
Contemporary Arts Center Gallery
Exhibition Dates: 
Oct 07, 2023 to Dec 16, 2023
Saturday, October 7, 2023 - 2:00pm
Wednesday, November 15, 2023 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Encounters | Think of it as Money!: A conversation with Adrià Julià and Bill Maurer

Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) Gallery


Join us for a conversation on the exhibition Think of it as Money!  between exhibiting artist Adrià Julià and Dean of the School of Social Sciences Bill Maurer.

Think of it as Money! presents a constellation of artworks, in which the legacy of Hercule Florence—the 19th century French inventor—is the catalyst of a durational dreamscape, one in which money is the shapeshifting medium, bending and stretching through time. This exhibition is curated by Juli Carson and is currently on view at the CAC Gallery until December 16, 2023.

Encounters is an ongoing series of conversations—in tandem with the UAG’s mission to support innovative research and initiate dialogue on critical aesthetics and political topics—between visiting artists who have developed solo projects with the gallery and resident distinguished faculty/scholars across campus. These encounters are one-on-one conversations that push interdisciplinary knowledge production and bring together common research goals, shared with the public and the gallery’s community on campus.

Bill Maurer is IMTFI Director, Professor of Anthropology and Law, Dean, School of Social Sciences at University of California, Irvine. Maurer is a cultural anthropologist who conducts research on law, property, money and finance, focusing on the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment. If you need more, his faculty website is here. IMTFI's website is here.