With BULL, Willem Boshoff turns his gaze to the institution of capitalism, a system which has been proactively espoused by the United States and adopted in many parts of the world with mixed success and failure .
The work consists of a paper collage of writings about capitalism, which were sourced from the internet. Speaking about this work, Boshoff says, “The text was written by capitalists who believe in the system. However, I can’t really trust the view that capitalism has succeeded. Hence, I used handmade paper, which obscures the text with its uneven texture, and then covered it with prickly thorns, to caution.”
According to the artist, a catalyst for the work was the stock market crash of September 2008. At the time he was in lower Manhattan, performing a series of Big Druid Walks that would eventually form the basis of the work NEW YORK 09-11-2001: IN MEMORIAM. With Wall Street crashing, the ensuing financial crisis quickly reached global proportions including a number of bank failures in Europe and sharp reductions in the value of equities and commodities worldwide. This prompted questions to be raised on the efficacy of capitalism, itself.
Although the 2008 recession may have been the instigator, Boshoff explains that the origins of BULL actually lay much further back. “In 1973 I was in my final year at art college. I was very religious at the time. I quit and decided to become a lay preacher. I gave away my money and my things. In giving away my worldly possessions, I realised that money no longer had a hold over me. Nevertheless, one needs money to pay for things. Money is enslaving: there are no rich people without poor people. ‘Bull’ means nonsense, when used to refer to ‘bullshit’. Within the stock exchange context, the word ‘bull can also refer to selling shares or to a ‘bullish’ market.
“In this work I am playing with dangerous ideas”, he states. “I am disqualifying capitalism, whilst also indicating that capitalism is a subtle thing, hard to define. Like all belief systems (including religion), capitalism is a fiction. The irony of BULL as an artwork is that only a person with a lot of money could afford to buy it.”