2001

Nedcor headquarter building, Sandton
Material: Zimbabwe Black and Rustenburg Grey granite.
Processing of granite: Boschpoort granite, Belfast, Mpumalanga

Windfall

  • My work WINDFALL occupies the walking areas of the main foyer of the new NEDCOR building in Sandton, Johannesburg - a little more than half a football field in size. The work is situated on different floor-levels as accessed through the main entrance and developing along the escalators onto higher levels.

     

    I have chosen the name WINDFALL, a name that plays on other, rather romantic words like rainfall and snowfall where one may actually see the visual effects of a natural falling. A windfall, in its original sense, is something blown down by the wind - a branch, a fruit, often something useful or tasty. In fact a windfall has come to denote a lucky find, a valuable coin in the road, an unexpected benefit in business, a fortuitous earning or surprising profit.

     

    The coming up and dying down of wind underlie the rising and falling of investment opportunities, and the unseen nature of wind is in keeping with the abstract nature of monetary concerns. Like the winds they can be flexible, flighty, unexpected or enduring. Wind operates in the same safe or risky trajectories as the routes along which the investor and entrepreneur navigate the ship of their expectations and resources. The strength and potential of these forces are constantly assessed should they turn out to be sudden blasts, slight breezes or strong currents. As with the venture of financial assets, the wind carries with it elements of surprise and unpredictability in need of informed management. Although the wind "bloweth where it listeth" it can be expertly harnessed.

     

    Wind is as universal as the chance to turn sleeping opportunities to gain. It is everywhere, and in every place its unique make-up offers the moment that can be seized for fortune or ruin. The seasoned investor knows that fiscal breezes bring rain or snow. Wind propels the windmill and distributes the pollen of flowers, but it can also work havoc and cause disastrous tragedy. Each wind has a predictability or 'style' all of its own but it can also have 'mood-swings' and a capriciousness that makes depending on it a nightmare. The French philosopher Claude Lévi-Strauss refers to policies of random endeavour as a "contingency of the incidental and the coincidental."

     

    To install WINDFALL I sandblasted 160 unfamiliar words, eighty for winds and eighty for issues of monetary concern, onto different odd-shaped rectilinear flagstone blocks of granite - to capture the most fugitive element within the most concrete - 'wind' on stone. The 160 arcane names of winds and economic terms were selected from my dictionary of difficult English containing over 18,000 entries. The winds are sandblasted in shiny black lettering onto a grey granite and the monetary terms in grey lettering onto a shiny black granite. The strange words must create the idea of messages on scraps of paper carried in from above and beyond. The stones have accidental shapes, almost like clumsy snow-crystals and are scattered across the floor of the walking area as if blown in by the wind - like sparsely shed leaves under a tree, or like thinly sprinkled salt on food - a windfall.

     

    To give WINDFALL a universal feel, winds from all over the world are laid down on the floor. Wind tends to ignore man-made boundaries almost in the same way as the financial wizard adventurously courts good fortune in far-away places. The wind is often hard to understand and so is the world of finance. Preference is given to names like MELTEMI (a north-west wind in Turkey and Greece), EURUS (the east-wind), AFER (a south-west wind), PHEFO (Northern Sotho for wind), UMOYA (wind in the Nguni Languages of South Africa), EMBAT (a wind that blows from Turkey across Egypt) and KATABURAN (a hot, miserable wind in Asia). I the eighty words related to the economy are as perplexing as those for winds. These arcane words are brain-teasers, lying around for someone to unravel. Luck plays a part in selecting a sound investment portfolio, but it is after all the genius who is able to decode, the one who figures things out, who will make the most intelligent and salient choice. Words like OLIGOPOLY (a market dominated by few sellers and many producers), UMKHOKHI (Zulu for one who makes payments) QUOMODOCUNCIZATION (the making of money in any possible way) and CAPELOCRACY (the rule of retail dealers), are used.

    WINDFALL is made accessible to visitors by a touch-screen computer installed in the vicinity. It provides a brief explanation of the work and the abstruse words with their definitions are also given.

     

    CHOSEN FINANCIAL TERMS
    1. ÆRARIAN In ancient Rome, the poorest citizen who contributes to the treasury.
    2. AGINATOR One who sells odds and ends at flea markets or informal street stalls.
    3. ALMOIGN A chest with money for the poor.
    4. ALNASCHAR One who is unemployed because of always dreaming about splendour.
    5. ARGENTOCRACY Government by the wealthy.
    6. ARGYROTHECOLOGY The care or collecting of money boxes and piggy-banks
    7. BONIFICATION A general financial improvement by the lowering of taxes.
    8. BOUQUINISM A trading and exchanging in secondhand books.
    9. CAPELOCRACY The rule of shopkeepers and retail dealers.
    10. CATALLACTICS International politics of exchange in monetary units or shares.
    11. CHREMATOMANIA An inordinate obsession with making money.
    12. CHRYSOLOGY The science of gold or of political economy and wealth.
    13. CIMELIARCHY A treasury for the safekeeping of precious items.
    14. COBDENISM A policy of free trade and international cooperation and trust.
    15. CRAMER One who sells goods at a booth, a hawker, or retail salesman.
    16. DANISM An old word for the lending of money in demand for a return-dividend.
    17. DEFENERATION A charge of excessive interest.
    18. DEPORT In Afrikaans, a percentage paid by a seller of stock for privilege of delaying delivery.
    19. DIVITISM The condition of having an overabundance of assets as with magnates.
    20. EGESTUOSITY The state of being very poor. A monk lives an egestuose life.
    21. ERGATOCRACY A government by the workers. In Greek an ergates is a worker.
    22. ESTOVERS The necessary things in a deal that are not exactly mentioned.
    23. EUCLIONISM Extreme stinginess and selfishness - money-pinching.
    24. FENERATOR A money lender. A feneratitious institution often lends unfairly.
    25. FICTURE A old name for a counterfeit object such as a banknote or painting.
    26. FRANKPLEDGE Financial care in a group aiming to share the profits and losses.
    27. GABELLE A troublesome duty - once a special tax on salty foods, fruit or wine.
    28. GIESETRYE An old word for stealing sacred articles in order to sell them.
    29. GOMBEENISM An Irish-English word for extorting money or for lending unfairly.
    30. GRIMTHORPE The restoring of old buildings with a lot of money and no sense.
    31. GUICHET The bars or hatch through which tickets are sold and money is issued.
    32. ICHTHYOPOLISM A trading in fish and fish products.
    33. IMPIGNORATION The act of pledging money or possessions - a pawning.
    34. IMPRESTING The act of lending money - a loan or an advanced salary.
    35. INCUBO One who broods jealously over his wealth, whilst coveting more.
    36. INGUBU Zulu or Xhosa for secondhand items for sale such as blankets and clothes.
    37. JETTON A small chip or token of metal or plastic used in phones or slotmachines.
    38. LACHANOPOLY The trade of greengrocers. To lachanize is to gather vegetables.
    39. MALETOLT An old legal term for an unjust and really heavy tax. 
    40. MEED Payment, wages or compensation. A meedless act goes unrewarded.
    41. METABLETICS The financial practice of bartering.
    42. MODIATION An old tax levied on luxuries such as wine and liquor.
    43. MODUEDI The Tswana word for payer. A payment made is a tuelo.
    44. MONETISM The worship of money. In Latin moneta is 'money'.
    45. MONOPSONY A market situation with only a single buyer and many sellers.
    46. MOPUTSO A Sesotho word for pay - one who pays is a molefi.
    47. MYROPOLY The trade in creams, colognes, lotions and perfumes.
    48. NARIKIN A Japanese who grew up poor and suddenly became wealthy.
    49. NAULUM An old term for the money paid for a trip on a ship or ferry.
    50. NOTAPHILISM The practice of collecting banknotes for a hobby.
    51. NUMERAIRE The standard used by economists for currency exchange rates.
    52. NUMMULARIAN An old name for a money-changer. In Latin a nummus is a 'coin'.
    53. OBOLUS The smallest coin in a currency. An obolary person is penniless.
    54. OCKERISM Originally money-lending at unfair interest - now any criminal conduct.
    55. OLIGOPOLIST One of only a few sellers in a well-stocked market.
    56. OLIGOPSONY A market condition with many sellers of goods and a few buyers.
    57. ONEIROPOLY The turning of ones dreams into a profitable business.
    58. ONIOCHALASIA Buying as a means of mental relaxation.
    59. OPHELIMITY In economics, the capacity to satisfy a want or need.
    60. OPOROPOLY The selling of fruit and fruit products.
    61. PAPYROPOLY The paper trade. In Greek papyros is 'paper' and polein 'to sell'.
    62. PECULATOR An embezzler of money held in trust, especially public money.
    63. PHILARGYRY An old word for the love of money and material things.
    64. PLUTOCRACY The privileged rule of the wealthy. In Greek ploutos is 'wealth'.
    65. PLUTOLATRY The worship of wealth, or of Ploutos, the Greek god of wealth.
    66. PLUTOLOGY The science of the generation and distribution of wealth.
    67. PROLONGASIE Afrikaans for percentage paid by a buyer of stock to postpone transfer.
    68. PTOCHOCRACY A government or command by beggars or the poor.
    69. QUÆSTUARY One dealing with and advising on money. In Latin quæstus is 'gain'.
    70. QUOMODOCUNCUIZING The making of money in any possible way.
    71. REPIGNORATION Claiming back an item or pawn that was previously pledged.
    72. SIMONY The buying or selling of religious benefits such as virtue or forgiveness.
    73. SPORTULE An old word for a gift or financial aid from a patron - sponsorship.
    74. STAKHANOVISM Hard work and maximum output to ensure a stable economy.
    75. SUPEREROGATION A paying out or producing of more than is required.
    76. TEKELITE A defaulting debtor. In the book Daniel - 'weighed and found wanting'.
    77. TRAGEMATOPOLY An old name for trade in sweet delicacies.
    78. TROUVAILLE A lucky find, a windfall - from the French trouver 'to find'.
    79. TSHISIWANA A Venda word for a person who has no money.
    80. UBUTYEBI A Xhosa word for wealth.
    81. UMKHOKHI A Zulu word for one who pays. Inkhokhelo is the payment made.
    82. VIREMENT The power to transfer funds from one financial account to another.
    83. XYLOPOLY The timber industry. In Greek xylon is 'wood' and polein - 'to sell'.
    84. ZAIKAI The élite of the Japanese business community - the world of high finance.

     

    CHOSEN NAMES FOR WINDS

    1. AEOLUS The wind in Greek mythology, also personified as a god.
    2. AFER The south-west wind in Europe. Afer is Latin for 'African'.
    3. ANEMOS Greek for wind. Anemology is the science of winds.
    4. AQUILON An ancient Greek name for the north wind.
    5. AUSTER A dry, hot south wind - related to the word austere.
    6. BAGUIO Spanish for a whirlwind that carries lots of sand and debris.
    7. BISE A dry, cutting north-north-east wind in Switzerland and nearby France.
    8. BLORE A blasting, gusty wind - a tempest.
    9. BORASCO A sudden nasty squall of wind, a child of Boreas.
    10. BOREAS The north wind, after the Greek god of the same name.
    11. CAURUS Latin for the ghastly and stormy north-west wind.
    12. CHELIDONIAS Greek for a wind that brings swallows in springtime.
    13. CHINOOK A dry, turbulent wind on the east side of the Rocky Mountains.
    14. EMBAT An enduring wind blowing from Turkey to southern Egypt.
    15. ESINTI Turkish for a breeze or light draught of air.
    16. ETESIAN A steady drift of the lower atmosphere over the eastern Mediterranean.
    17. EUROCLYDON A stormy, blustering condition - 'east wind' in Greek.
    18. EURUS In Europe, a wind from the east. The east wind is the god Euros.
    19. FAVONIUS The west wind, so named in Latin because it is favourable.
    20. FENG A Chinese name for wind. Feng-shui is a wind/water lifestyle.
    21. FOEHN A moist, cool wind turning pleasantly warm in Alpine valleys.
    22. FURACÃO The Portuguese name for a hurricane. In Spanish it is huracan.
    23. ? ?GÃU? ?GÃU In the extinct /Xam language, the wind when it blows very strongly.
    24. GHIBLI A hot, dusty wind blowing from Libya's highlands to the Mediterranean.
    25. GREGALE The north-east wind in the Mediterranean - the Greco in Greece.
    26. HAAR Miserably wet fog on the east coast of England and Scotland.
    27. HALCYON A time of windless calm when halcyon-birds nest on the open sea.
    28. HARMATTAN An intolerable, scorching and dusty wind in Upper Guinea.
    29. HORTUM A Turkish word for a whirlwind.
    30. IEPOGODA The Serbian word for a terrible storm. Vetar is wind.
    31. ISIVUNGUVUNGU The Zulu