2009, Sound, Sculpture Installation, Dimensions Variable, , Suitcases, Travel Bags, Briefcases, Cardboard Tubes, Sequins, Material, Thread, Speakers, DVD Player, Amplifier.
The counterfeit industry is booming due to the exhaustive prices of designer merchandise, coupled with the kudos and status linked to owning designer goods, which creates an insatiable demand for knock-offs and fakes. The need for people to own and display these symbolic signifiers of success exposes the power of a mode of idealistic capitalism that has endured. And globalisation offers a “simple” solution – it supplies the manpower necessary to fulfill the desire for status. The origins and histories of the people manufacturing and selling these goods is often either unknown or ignored by those purchasing the merchandise.
The counterfeit business is as organised and controlled as that of the drug and prostitution trades, and like these other rackets it often preys on the most vulnerable and at risk bodies to peddle their wares – illegal immigrants. These disposable, dispossessed people (who are sometimes provided by human trafficking rings or made up of refugees escaping violent political and economic turmoil in their own countries) are positioned on street corners to make sales, and are wholly expendable. An arrest could mean time in prison at best, and deportation at worst. They are highly visible, putting themselves at greatest risk; yet they are also quite ‘invisible’ in that they are not citizens of the country in question, nor do they enjoy the rights or protections of that country’s law. The existence of such people points to the dark underbelly of globalisation, and its failure to fulfill the promises it proffers to such outsiders.
The multimedia installation MINDONTHEMONEY, which comprises sound and sculpture, seeks to comment on the uncomfortable duality of this industry. Luxury goods seem to signify “the dream” – a promise of a better life, of all that is beautiful and pleasurable, whilst the counterfeit industry – the dark shadow of the luxury industry - declares the emptiness of these promises. It also marks the failure and cost of globalisation, for both the companies who can no longer control their brands, and the people used as pawns and middlemen in the manufacture and sale of fake goods.
Branded, sequined suitcases, with their notions of physical and social mobility, are static before the visitor as Goodman unfolds a soundscape composed of the calls of the hawkers who peddle ‘fake’ goods from suitcases because of their need to evade the authorities quickly when necessary. It is up to the listener to decide whether those who cannot, or will not part with the money for the authentic should be the objects of derision or praise, but more profoundly MINDONTHEMONEY illustrates the irony of the way in which the brand-dream, and the addiction to the label, unite humanity from sweatshop to boutique.
Photographs by Chris Saunders