The Waterworks of Money – Exploring the role of money in our society

Who makes our money? Where does it all go? And why doesn’t the financial system work for everyone? These questions are at the heart of The Waterworks of Money, the latest work and exhibition of the same name by artist and cartographer Carlijn Kingma. In the exhibition, now on view at Rijksmuseum Twenthe, she leads you through a watery world where money is in motion, its hidden forces made manifest.

Money as water
If you think of money as water, then our financial system is like an irrigation system, watering the economy. And just as irrigation helps crops grow, money allows the economy to flourish. As long as the money keeps flowing, society will thrive – or at least that’s the idea. In reality, large swaths of society remain parched, while a small group of people is swimming in money. Today, a handful of billionaires controls more wealth than half the world’s population combined.

Banking through the ages
With her project, Kingma follows in the footsteps of a long line of artists who call attention to the role that money and banking play in our lives. In the exhibition, you’ll wander past centuries-old charts and satirical prints depicting greed and hubris, their message just as relevant today. Kingma draws on this rich history to map out how today’s monetary system is set up. With the help of humor and metaphor, she brings the world of big money within our grasp. Come journey beyond the shiny facades of financial institutions and uncover the true workings of money in our society.

The Waterworks of Money
In her newest piece, The Waterworks of Money, Kingma maps the world of money using water as a metaphor, exploring alternatives for a more fair and just system. In the tall towers of the financial sector, bankers, technocrats and lobbyists meet to discuss the future form of our monetary system. Politicians look on from the sidelines, while the rest of the people see nothing of this design process, which takes place behind mirrored facades. But our monetary system is a public affair. Design choices made in conference rooms have great influence on how money moves through the economy and how wealth is distributed. Soaring inflation, growing inequality, a lack of funding for sustainable projects – all are tied in with the system’s design. Those who hold power over money hold sway over the future of us all. To protect our democracy against the pull of big money, we first need a better understanding of the financial system, and Kingma takes a first step in this.

Carlijn Kingma – The Waterworks of Money
16 October 2022 – 29 January 2023
Rijksmuseum Twenthe
Lasondersingel 129-131
7514 BP Enschede