Opened in 2012 in Montreal, Canada by art collectors Pierre and Anne-Marie Trahan, Arsenal Contemporary now has a branch in the Bowery.
Not a gallery, Arsenal is more correctly understood as a showcase for the Trahan’s private collection. The couple does also run a commercial gallery plus an artist residence program, as well as an additional Arsenal space in Toronto which they opened in 2014. Loreta Lamargese and Isabelle Kowal are co-directors of the Bowery branch, which opened in February 2017.
“Arsenal is not a gallery, so it gets to be a bit more experimental,” Lamargese said. She stated her wish to a collaborate with curators and local galleries on future programming. “We really want it to be an arts center where there’s always something happening.”
What’s happening now is a display of the latest art project from Ed Fornieles, digital creatures reminiscent of the cute Tamogotchi entities children were crazy for in the 90’s and beyond. At the Bowery’s Arsenal visitors will see three LED screens showing off the cute, blobby cartoon creatures Fornieles has dubbed Finiliar. The creatures change their expressions in concert with the rise and fall of a particular currency. For instance, when the British pound goes up, its very own Finiliar, whose name is Dunop, exudes happiness: he celebrates the pound’s success by raising up a champagne flute in pure joy. But if the pound should putter, as it mostly has since Brexit, we see little Dunop shaking and looking like he is about to burst into tears.
An interesting way to keep track of your favorite currencies.
What might seem a bit trivial, and even silly at first glance is actually an interesting social experiment to see if people might respond more empathetically to the troubles or successes of large financial systems if the fate of the currencies are portrayed by cute cartoons. The crash of a currency could actually lead to the death of a Finiliar. If that would happen, would be people care more?
Fornieles wants to see if giving this abstract financial concept a face in the form of a cute, round animated creature in the style of Japanese anime, will create an added incentive for the world to stand up and take notice of the continued health of things like currencies or companies.
Intrigued? Go check it out at the Bowery’s Arsenal Contemporary, from February 22 to April 23, 2017.