An installation by Sasha Amaya
University of Manitoba
9-20 November 2015 . Closing reception 20 November 12.00
“The past twelve months have been full of news about migration, oil prices, the Euro crisis, and other topics of global concern — in short, a year of news about how we are affected by market changes and international corporations, those abstract things outside of our control which impinge on the details of our lives so much. I felt this particularly acutely when studying abroad last year, where costs were high, where the value of my money fluctuated, and where my right to exist in a certain place was not given but always up for question. Conflicting feelings of privilege and precarity are hard to capture, but one way I, and many of my peers, manifested our anxiety was in a fixation on costs, that is to say, is it worth it? A small and domestic embodiment of so many of the greater debates we see today, the experience of being a student and a student abroad is one of asking ourselves and each other if the situation in which we find ourselves is one we want to continue to exist.
Costs come in all sorts, but I began to track all of my purchases, big and small. Were these purchases reasonable, feasible, justifiable? At what cost, metaphorical and literal, does education come? What began as neurotic accountancy soon turned into an artistic obsession. Having now collected hundreds of receipts, from the lunchtime sandwich to the cross-atlantic plane ticket, I have a collection which physically, materially, and exactingly shows each cent I have spent. These financial splinters are insigifnicant on their own, but as a collection they not only strive to give physical form to the intangibility of our financial system, but also prompt us to consider how we want to proceed with our own education, which is becoming less affordable, and more oriented toward profit, each year.”