“Ozymandias” is a collection of eight analogue collages that use the last Bank of England one pound note (issued in 1984) and a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem to meditate on the hubris of empire and late-stage capitalism.
In the final days of a residency in Scotland in October 2022, I made a series of collage using old British pound notes that were left behind by an artist. The one pound note featuring Sir Isaac Newton that appears in these collages was withdrawn in 1988 when the paper currency was replaced by a coin due to inflation. I found myself thinking about the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem, Ozymandias, and the hubris of nations.
It occurred to me that humanity no longer functions as a collection of countries or a set of competing empires. Humanity suffers collectively under a unified capitalist system where the well-being of the economy is more important than the well-being of people. In the United Kingdom during that period, the currency was collapsing as the government moved to issue more bonds and to deal with an energy crisis that was in part created by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The United States, like much of Europe, was seeing record inflation. Food and heat were getting more expensive. As I continued the series back in New Orleans, I overheard a news commentator complain that China was putting its values above its economic interests. While I have no interest in making apologies for China, I found it curious that such an offense would be noted. Why bother having an economy if not as a way to ensure one has the freedom and ability to live according to one’s values? Is this not a sign that humanity has moved from the ego of nations to the hubris of an economic system concerned only with its perpetuation at the expense of its citizens? Shelley’s poem reminds us that all empires fade and that we are left “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
The zine presents image details of the collages from “Ozymandias” with the text of the Shelley poem.
DETAILS: 28 pages | 7″x5″ | saddle-stitched booklet | ISBN 978-1-927587-64-5 | 2022 | Published by Maison Kasini Canada
Collection of Artwork
The collection is available as a complete lot of eight original, analogue collages on cardboard, presented in an archival fiberboard box (1.8″ x 13.2″ x 9.3″) with a printed label and a copy of the zine.
Please send an EMAIL to inquire about purchasing the collection.