In 1984–85, Johan van der Keuken took his camera across the globe, from Amsterdam to New York to Hong Kong, ending in Geneva. The object of his investigation was money, in particular the maniacal drive to accumulate it in the era of Thatcherite/Reaganite neoliberalism. In the resulting film, I love $, van der Keuken shows us his view of the world of money in which the Netherlands is fully integrated, and the contrasts between excess and deprivation. In addition to a succession of bankers, traders, and executives, van der Keuken also interviews the victims of economic dispossession, such as the residents of dilapidated dwellings in New York and illegal Portuguese immigrants in Switzerland (who, ironically, have a son who dreams about the promised land of New York). Flashes of the developing world (which the financiers admit is of no interest to them) appear on flickering TV monitors, indicating its remoteness from the centers of capitalist power, as embodied in the sanitized streets of Geneva. Van der Keuken lets the camera explore its environment, with attention to aesthetic detail that sets this apart from more conventional reportage.
Van der Keuken’s I love $ references the Imagined Past in the exhibition Museum as Hub: Be(com)ing Dutch at a Distance, organized by Annie Fletcher, Exhibitions Curator, and Charles Esche, Director, of the Van Abbemuseum and on view on the fifth floor from January 15–March 29, 2009.