LIBERTAS LIBERTAS, 2021
PVC, car paint Fiat 527 Oro Lingotto Effect, diameter each 55 cm
The Montesinos Foundation (TMF) presents: LIBERTAS LIBERTAS! The motto of the foundation by Elena Montesinos is: “Some people make money with art & power, TMF makes art with money & power instead.” On the one hand, the power of TMF arises from the artist’s unstoppable energy and her do-it-yourself approach. On the other hand, TMF is nourished by personal networks and friendly relationships, in which the sharing of knowledge and skills as well as mutual support are a matter of course. Money is more the subject of her actions and works, than it is abundant. Thus the motto points to one of Montesinos’ most powerful vehicles: irony.
Money and irony also manifest themselves in Montesinos’ intervention on the busy Hirschengraben street: two multiply enlarged Fünfräppler (5 Swiss centimes), installed on the two columns that flank the northern entrance portal. Viewers can alternately see one side of the coin with the head of Libertas, the personification of freedom, and on the other side, the “5” as currently the smallest denomination in Swiss currency. The oscillation between the two sides of the coin is reminiscent of a game of heads or tails. Is money presented here as a random generator that can produce freedom?
Fun facts: The 5-centimes piece costs more to produce than its face value, so it would make sense for it to be discontinued. But because the 5 centimes are part of Swiss cultural heritage, the Swiss state makes the Fünfräppler cost something. The depicted Libertas on the coin is often mistaken for Helvetia, an allegorical female figure symbolizing the Swiss Confederation. This confusion makes the coin and our foundation related by name. Montesinos’ sculptures, made from plastic, which hint at references to Pop Art, guard the Pro Helvetia entrance. The artist therefore indirectly invites us to question the access to funding.
Elena Montesinos (*1971) lives and works in both Geneva and Cyberspace, combining activism and sociological art. She’s a natural-born media mixer. She was co-director of the Forde art space in Geneva (2012–2014), and since 2020 has curated the art space Home of TMF (The Montesinos Foundation). She received the Swiss Art Award in 1998. In 2021, she received the city of Geneva’s grant for artists over the age of 35.
Text: Josiane Imhasly