THE BLOG
01/27/2016 02:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Artist Interview: Sarah Meyohas

 

Artist Sarah Meyohas has turned 303 Gallery  into her own Wall Street by trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Her work is on view until February 6.

Arthena: How did you become interested in the relationship between finance and art?

Sarah MeyohasIt is perhaps my educational background. I studied finance at Wharton and art at Yale, which only makes sense retrospectively.And I just started to see the links. Valuation, like perception, has its own perspectival orientation. Your view on a stock is the value judgment.

A: Tell us about the ideas behind trading stock as part of your exhibition?

SM: The two-fold creative act is very direct and bare-boned. Over the last ten days, I worked. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, placing orders with the purpose of visual change. Once I moved a stock price, I redrew it on canvas with oil stick. It is visual purpose that unhinges a painting's value from its material. It is visual purpose that guided the literal value of the line that I drew on these paintings. If value emerges from the relationship between perceptions, then seeing the mark on canvas as both literal and representational-- as the stock that it simultaneously depicts and abstracts-- is generative. 

A: Tell us more about your experience trading Stocks on the New York stock exchange - was your experience affected by being in a gallery setting?

SM: The viewer as both on the market and in the gallery! It felt like I was on the set of a movie. It's kind of surreal to trade stocks from a cavernous white gallery space.

What are Bitchcoins? How did you come up with this concept?

SM: BitchCoin is a digital currency backed by the photography of Sarah Meyohas at a fixed exchange rate of 1 BitchCoin to 25 square inches of photographic print. This rate of exchange will not change, even if the value of the photography increases. As her work changes in value over time, so will the relative value of BitchCoin.

Check out Bitchcoins here.

When the date for this show was set a few months ago, never could I have imagined that the market would be in its current state. US equity markets have recorded their worst start to a year in history. In just a few trading days into 2016, the S&P 500 has erased over $2 trillion dollars in value.

That is the true contingency for this work. Because essentially, it forced investors to do what I’ve been doing: ignore the underlying reality and focus simply on the price.

During uncertain times such as these, fundamental valuation fails you. In retrospect, it might be attributed to China, or to oil. But these were also factors in the later half of 2015. So when causes cannot be called upon to understand a situation, you can only rely on the facticity and immediacy of the price. An investor is forced to reckon with the power of sentiment. What happened on the market is a phenomenal echo of what I did on individual stocks: ignore its underlying reality, just make the price swing. 

A: You mention that the market in some ways charts emotion, which means your graphs are also a reflection of the community of stock buyers. Can you elaborate on this?

SM: The line I drew is an inextricable link to an anonymous other on the opposite side of the trade. This prevents me from being absolutely individual. I am exposed to the gazes of others as one investor among investors.

Through competition, the market appears to dispel, as if magically, the thickness and opacity of the physical reality, opening the world up before us. The visibility that price lends to aspects of the world helps us reach out into the midst of conditions and circumstances beyond ourselves, and through our market actions link us to them in a way seemingly beyond comparison to the relations of the external world. Ownership becomes simultaneously an absolute closeness and an irremediable distance.

A quantifiable, singular price is what brings together the many individual perspectives, turning judgment into data, emotion into a line. Whatever fluctuations occur in this field of thoughts and perceptions may not indicate any change in the underlying company, but in what investors feel the worth of it is. 

Read more about 303 Gallery and Sarah Meyohas.

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