Bringing together painterly accomplishments with the legacy of Conceptual Art, Ryan Presley’s Blood Money Currency Exchange Terminal 2018–ongoing delivers concrete outcomes for First Nations people. Mimicking a currency exchange booth, the performative installation invites gallery visitors to purchase Blood Money Dollars (BMD) with Australian currency. In return, participants receive notes featuring watercolours depicting Aboriginal freedom fighters, innovators and artists.
Currently, the only Indigenous person to appear on an Australian banknote is the writer and inventor David Unaipon (1872–1967). Presley’s action suggests that more Indigenous people should be featured, as the circulation of currency is also the dissemination of history.
Blood Money Currency Exchange Terminal also draws attention to how much of Australia’s wealth has been derived from the dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land through British invasion and occupation – and through their continuing legacy. While Australia is the thirteenth largest economy in the world, not all its Indigenous peoples enjoy the benefits of living in a first-world country. To counter this, Blood Money Currency Exchange Terminal reallocates cash raised by the artwork to organisations focused on empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, making a direct and tangible impact on the world.
The Blood Money Currency Exchange Terminal is open daily from 10.00am – 2.00pm at the Queensland Art Gallery from 1 Dec 2022 – 22 Jan 2023 (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Opening hours are subject to change.