Money ain't what it used to be. But then, it probably never was. Like love or health, it is never adequate unless there is enough of it, so it's no surprise that at least a few artists are making their own and incorporating it in their work. Marrero native Dan Tague reworks paper currency into ironic social commentaries in prints of dollar bills that have been maniacally folded and flattened so the words are scrambled into phrases like "Save the Coast" or "Reality Sucks" or even "We Need a Revolution" to create a whole new genre: radical monetary origami. Here convoluted textures and precise execution transform prints that might have been merely stuntlike into visual poetry with a punch line. Most of the other works are typical of his epater la bourgeoisie provocation mode, but his currency series became a self-fulfilling prophecy when the Whitney Museum, among other collectors, bought some. So there you have it: do-it-yourself dollars. What could be more American than that?
Iconoclastic local artists Louviere + Vanessa employ currency as objets trouves in large photographic mixed-media prints in this Counterfeit show, distilling the aesthetic content of the engravings found on the paper money of faraway places in works like His Eyes Crashed on the Frightened Shore (pictured), in which the tiny engraved head of a Bengal tiger from an Indian banknote appears vastly enlarged. Printed on gold leaf, it looks more luminous than glitzy, with a cracked and pigmented patina suggesting the effects of time and abrasion in an image that seems to glow with an eerie inner light. Daguerreotypes employed silver to similar effect, and these works seem similarly alchemical, both technically and poetically. Not content with international currency manipulation, Louviere + Vanessa have given us a whole new approach to the gold standard. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Thru June 30
Counterfeit: Mixed-media photographic works by Louviere + Vanessa
A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St., 568-1313; www.agallery.com
Thru June 1
May I Have a Revolution Please: New works by Dan Tague
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471; www.jonathanferraragallery.com