The work presents an effigy of the infamous pirate Blackbeard—a horned skeleton toasting the Devil while pointing a spear toward a bleeding heart, giving no quarter—layered on top of an etching of a discontinued American $100,000 bill featuring the portrait of Woodrow Wilson, a bill that was created in 1934, during the Great Depression. The ensemble brings forth a critique of the market—which, beginning in the late nineteenth century, was rooted in speculation and preyed on the hopes of the poor and the disenfranchised—in a nod to Lucy Parsons’s activism against the industrial economic system. This critique is echoed by the inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, through a cryptocurrency and blockchain technology aiming at decentralizing the hegemony of the market while adding a layer of transparency. As NFT acquisitions facilitate the liquidity of cryptocurrency in its original, decentralized, and highly volatile value, one can wonder about the RICH BASTARDS and their FUTURE EXECUTIONERS.
Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961) is known for a practice that overturns traditional exhibition formats in favor of social interactions generated through the sharing of everyday activities such as cooking, eating, and reading. Creating environments that reject the primacy of the art object and instead focus on use value and bringing people together through simple acts and environments of communal care, Tiravanija’s work challenges expectations around labor and virtuosity. Tiravanija is a founding member and curator of Utopia Station, a collective project of artists, art historians, and curators. He also helped establish the Land Foundation, which is cultivated to be a self-sustainable environment and an open space for community, experimentation, and knowledge production.
Tiravanija's work has been included in major group exhibitions including the 45th and 48th Venice Biennales, the 1995 and 2005 Whitney Biennials, and the 27th São Paulo Biennial. Recent solo exhibitions have been mounted by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2016); the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015); Tate Modern, London (2013); the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2012); and the Serpentine Galleries, London (2005), among others. Tiravanija has received numerous grants and awards, such as the 2017 Silpathorn Award, given by the Ministry of Culture in Thailand; the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize; and the 2003 Benesse Prize, awarded by the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, Japan. He lives and works in New York, Berlin, and Chiang Mai.