"SIFR" by Hady Sy by Essa Muhammad

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Zero dollar | A sign of time


In the world today, we use paper money without much thinking. A symbol of an unsubstantial entity, we tend to confuse paper money with real value. We believe it carries intrinsic value, although most of us would be hard pressed to define what that value is. Hady Sy’s Zero dollar confronts us with a conundrum. The American dollar bill, the familiar and ubiquitous world currency, displays a Zero, a symbol of nothingness, the absence of value. A brilliant conceit, real in its materiality and reproducibility, it is a symbol without a referent, valueless, and unsettling. The Artist’s devalued dollar stands for a world gone awry, a world that has lost its moral compass, where money trumps all human values. Tapping into our collective reservoir of images, popular songs, and expressions, and shifting from somber to humorous, profound to light-hearted, he constructs powerfully evocative works that conjure up the role money in our lives. As a single dollar bill, or in stacks, stashed in pockets, suitcases, pillows, and bags, as shadowy presence in our craniums, or growing on trees, the Zero dollar show, wistfully and with humor, builds a thematic on the pernicious role of money in our personal, social and political lives, and our value systems today. Corruption. Venality. Greed. Selfishness. Cruelty. Violence. Poverty. Wars. It is an unhinged, dystopian world, where a man stands upside down, his head buried in a pile of dollar bills; the scales of Justice tip under the weight of money; people die in their pursuit of happiness; medicine is a commodity; and wars and destruction are perpetuated with profits in mind. In a world saturated with images, Hady Sy’s Zero dollar endures in our imagination, less for its shock value, then for the ominous shifts and uncertainties it elicits. Zero dollar is a fitting symbol of the time.


May Farhat


University of Holy Spirit | Kaslik 

Ph.D. Harvard University | Department of the History of Art and Architecture