Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Self-published, circa 1978-1984
6.6 x 15.8 cm.
Edition size unknown
In the mid to late seventies, Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles produced his own replica banknotes and coins, which closely resembled genuine Brazilian and US currency, but were clearly marked with a denomination of zero. Now valued at around $4000 US, the notes were originally given away or otherwise introduced into the currency system as part of a series of works the artist called "insertions". Mieireles would frequently scrawl critiques of the Brazilian government on the banknotes, such as "Who killed [journalist Vladimir] Herzog?" , "Yankees go home!" and "Direct elections."
"I sometimes sold the dollars, but most of the time I just gave them to people. But they could be sold. When I first did the Zero Dollar project I wanted to sell them on the streets. I went to a street vendor in Rio, but then I discovered that the street vendor was part of a huge operation and the police were involved. So then I had to deal with this guy who was a policeman. But the idea was to produce an object and then try to put this object into circulation which causes the object to provoke a kind of shift in anthropological behavior."
- Cildo Meireles