Ryan Presley has really captured my imagination with his Blood Money series (2011). I appreciate the clarity of his work and I will apply Ranciere’s criteria to explain why I like it:
1. Production of a sensory form of strangeness
Presley substitutes the heroes of the European-Australian tradition (Banjo Patterson, Dame Mary Gilmore, Dame Nellie Melba and Sir Henry Parkes) with Aboriginal heroes and resistance fighters (Pemulwuy, Tedbury, Dundalli, Jandamarra, Vincent Lingiari and Gladys Tybingoompa) on enlarged banknote imitations.
2. An awareness of the reason for that strangeness
Presley exposes the monoculture of icons projected on the national currency and questions the moral basis of Australia’s wealth, reminding his audience of the dispossession of Aborigines in the past, and the disadvantage/injustice they continue to experience in the present.
3. Mobilisation of the individual as a result of that awareness.
With a confronting title ‘Blood Money, Presley opens up the dialogue for Indigenous reconciliation and self-determination, which often seems low on the political agenda despite popular sympathies.
There is a great interview with the artist on ABC Radio too.