ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Melanie Jackson
* 1968 in Hollywood (UK), lives and works in London (UK)

From the Bank of Hell,

From traditional Chinese beliefs stems the custom of burning paper replicas of valuable items during festivals as gifts for the deceased. Some of the effigies are industrially made and some by hand; the product range mirrors that of today’s consumer society – from branded electronic goods to household items but also banknotes with ridiculous face values. These banknotes are commonly known as “Hell Bank Notes.” The name’s origin is attributed to a chain of mistranslations between Christian missionaries and Chinese people. Yet what would it mean in the age of global capitalism if there were a bank on “the spiritual other side of our world” with which we would have to reckon up our possessions at least symbolically? For her installation From the Bank of Hell, Melanie Jackson imported a vast stock of paper objects, just if they were offered in a shop in Hong Kong. The symbolic religious value of the “fake” products merges with our clichéd idea of Asia as a cultural area of copies and forgeries, as well as with the cult status that is constructed around “real” luxury goods. For ultimately their value does not derive from their practical use value but from the societal fictions that are woven around them. (JB)



From the Bank of Hell,