The Fussy Eye: Gilt and Weighed

24-karat ordinary objects.

Forget being worth their weight in gold—what are the mundane objects of modern life really worth, as expressed in gold? Lisa Gralnick's show The Gold Standard, recently extended at BAM, tries to answer the question. Early in the 2000s, she began to make white plaster replicas of various objects—vacuum cleaners, cell phones, bags of Starbucks coffee, handguns, lightbulbs, etc.—and then added to each replica an amount of gold equal in value to the object depicted. On the old $30 Hoover, it's a Band-Aid-sized piece of gold repair tape affixed to the dust bag. And it's the wire clasp sealing $90 worth of coffee. Gold makes up the faceplate on a Nokia cell phone carrying a $500 annual contract, while the Apple logo is gilt on a $2,000 desktop computer. (Her calculations don't include the trace amounts of gold contained inside our electronics.) Part of the point here is to consider how endlessly mutable gold is, how it's been currency and commodity for millennia. Our vacuums and cell phones won't hold up so well. And the price of gold has risen since the economy's tanked, making Gralnick's work more valuable, and topical, than when it was created. (Through Aug. 15.) 

 
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