"Bedouin Notes' Architecture"
Project info

In “Bedouin Notes’s Architecture” we question the value of money exploring interfaces between identity, power and originality through the representation of architectural heritage that appear on current national bank notes of the United Arab Emirates, a country equally known in a global scale for its wealth and exoticism. Bedouin traditional culture of the UAE is rich in intangible heritage and rituals -poetry, henna skin painting and perfumes- but architectural heritage is very scarce and almost inexistent. The representation of new and old buildings in current UAE banknotes expresses the pride and value associated to architecture as a symbol of power and identity, and how this value has contributed to transform the desert into global metropolis in less than 40 years.
The series comments directly how we might understand money as a symbolic object and its contradictory strength and weakness over society and our personal lives. The India’s demonetization in 2016 -when bank notes lost their value over night, the Venezuelan’s bolivar devaluation, and the apparition of alternative currency systems such as bitcoins, raise questions about the value and the power we attached to money. Architecture is an identity builder, which is why it is represented in many national notes in the world: even imaginary buildings are shown in current European banknotes. The series recreates existing buildings of the UAE that appear on AED banknotes. We photograph each building in an intentioned point of view, set them on a layout that maintains the proportions of the banknotes with an atmospheric colored background inspired by the respective banknote. The creative process includes the manipulation of photography with digital engraving, just as the traditional engraver does in real notes as a handcraft impediment for technological falsification. The particular and specific decisions taken by the engraver with the burin is what makes it impossible to fake. However, in “Bedouin Notes’ Architecture” the reproducibility of the digital engraving challenges the originality of the artwork itself. The series fosters awareness about the power and impotence of money as a status builder. The banknotes represented are 5, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 Arab Emirates Dirhams.