Cildo Meireles, Insertions into Ideological Circuits 2: Banknote Project, 1970
From the Tate Collection:
In 1970, when Meireles produced the Insertions into Ideological Circuits projects, Brazil was undergoing the most oppressive period of its twenty-one year government by military dictatorship. At the time, the Insertions constituted a form of guerrilla tactics of political resistance in order to elude the strict state censorship enforced by the regime. For Meireles, the texts on circulating bottles and banknotes ‘functioned as a kind of mobile grafitti’ (quoted in Cameron, p.13). The stamped banknotes presented to Tate by the artist are symbols of the work which, for Meireles, is only operating when the notes are actually in circulation. In the case of the cruzeiro notes, their status as relics is enhanced by the fact that the cruzeiro is no longer legal tender: it was replaced, first by the cruzado in 1986 and, after a brief period of reinstatement from 1990-93, by the real in 1994. Meireles’s process of rubber stamping banknotes imitates the method adopted by the Brazilian Central Bank to upgrade the old cruzeiro to a new cruzeiro (literally called the cruzeiro novo) in 1967: old banknotes were revalued with a simple handstamp, dividing their value by one thousand. The Banknote Project has never been sold because the artist’s intention is that people may stamp their own messages on banknotes and themselves send out views or commentary into wider circulation. This may be done in any country, with any currency.