Barcelona, July 2023
The Fundació Mies van der Rohe presents the artistic intervention “The Cost of Money: Raft”, created by Mark Cottle as an itinerant project that began in the Neutra House in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, with the aim of drawing attention to the very high human and environmental cost of capital.
In the case of the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, "Raft" materializes through two large carpets of the same size (approximately 13 x 6 meters) formed by a network of single-use plastic bags of different colors. One of the pieces is located inside the Pavilion and surrounds the onyx wall, occupying most of the floor of the noble room; the other piece is located outside at one end of the large pool, like a large raft.
Each bag implies and represents a transaction, the tangible residue of consumed goods, a resource that is sometimes reused but most of the time is thrown away. Available in large quantities, plastic bags are a symbol of a single use culture. They often arrive through a series of intertwined immigrant business communities and become indicators of a myriad of informal economies, neighborhood shops and small, family-owned or newly-arrived businesses. Mark Cottle thus encourages us to reflect on the excessive human cost that capital demands, especially in the most vulnerable populations, and the enormous expense it entails for the environment.
With “The Cost of Money: Raft”, I have wanted to bring the discussion on the steep human price capital exacts, especially for the most vulnerable populations, and at enormous expense to the environment, to the Pavilion, a place that represents a moment in which industry was seen as a necessary tool towards the future but which already had a high social cost. – Mark Cottle explains
The almost 10,000 plastic bags that make up these two pieces have been selected and saved by the artist from the city's garbage cans, thus saving them from ending up in the trash container. Each carpet contains three groups of different colored bags.
Mark Cottle's proposal in the Pavilion links this space, referring to the Modern Movement, with the themes derived from the industrial revolution and its acceleration before World War II, with the social and ecological results that have led us to the current environmental crisis.