LAURA MACKIN
New (Smashed) Capital (Penny)
2012
smashed pennies
Post-colonial copper pattern pressed on copper cent. 200 cents were smashed to mark the two-year anniversary of New Capital, a Chicago art space.

An elongated penny token is a coin that has been smashed & embossed with a new design for the purpose of making a souvenir. In this case, the "new" design has been lifted from the back of a post-colonial US coin, a fledgling attempt at a national monetary system. It's a sentimental penny, commemorating its own past.

The token features an open eye surrounded by pointed rays & stars—an all-seeing, provident eye. This symbol of protective observation has been with us for 3 centuries now, and began showing up on US coins in 1776. An observer unfamiliar with the history of this specific ocular metaphor will be left looking at an eye, a rich symbol in itself. I love the indeterminacy of the eye as a symbol, loaded with contradictory readings: provident eye, evil eye, third eye, surveillance, etc.

It’s a piece about memory & the persistence of old cultural forms. It’s also a keepsake for New Capital’s last show, a wink at the gallery’s name. 200 smashed pennies will be available as take-home tokens, free for all visitors.
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