What is near and dear to us


Complete this sentence: Money... Makes the world go round, doesn’t matter, has no smell? What version would have been yours? Even the diversity of a short intellectual game shows the influence of value and money in particular on our thoughts, actions, and even emotions. As a social construct money can, as a result of its (non-)ownership, evoke emotions. As item of value it is a condition for social status.

Yet “value“ can be characteristic for objects as well as people (and is, as it is not inherent to an object, man-made. The very fact that ”value“ is applicable to living beings shows its deeply human character and connotation.). Neither clearly negative nor positive in connotation, “value“ asserts – subjectively, but also, using provisionally predetermined criteria, objectively.

Value does not equal value: for a homeless person, a donated coin in his cup can subjectively be worth a fortune: it can mean a warm drink, a dry bread roll and maybe a precious memory of the passing donor. Objectively seen the counter value is “only” 1. The material value is infinitesimally low, the discrepancy between perceived and pre-determined value high. Yet the latter is what counts especially socially and economically for many people. Concerning the value of art, opinions tend to differ markedly: for some, art is solely a capital investment and status symbol, for others it’s decoration. With-out disregarding the emotional value – the price of an artwork is formed by a multitude of criteria, yet mostly by the popularity of the artist. Material is often considered to be a minor matter.

Philipp Valenta turns the tables: While other artists of his age have to save money for expensive materials or generally forego them, Valenta’s materials are money and precious goods in all forms – completely opposite to the credo „You don’t play with money“. Here strategy equals appearance: preserving or destroying, creating or enlightening. Or simply dividing: Valenta handles his material recklessly, yet with a respectful aura. The socially determined value of an object might not necessarily be his own: The uprising is rehearsed wherever the penny drops. Valenta plays with the sense of expertise and the emotions the viewer believes to have. The artist frequently examines his materials situationally and asks questions about their hidden properties. The question of why something is valuable is pursued with a crushing thoroughness. Philipp Valenta does not exclude himself from the role of the viewer: As an architect of awe-inspiring moments of kafkaesque humour he presents an artistic product, a line of thought, and is intrigued by how this product is developed or exposed though an audience’s consideration. Valenta’s spectrum of materials as well as his techniques are manifold. „Material Follows Idea“ The artist‘s works deal with daily routine, shifting perspectives and thorough (background) check of the artistic, political, social, scientific, historic and physical dimensions of a thematic area.

Heads or tails. The Janus-faced sides of the medal that makes up currency and value are meticulous passions of the young artist. It is startling what this valued topic is able to yield – it seems even inexhaustible. Philipp Valenta succeeds in scrutinizing the quality of “value“. Apparently straightforward and often subversive he shows what value is worth for people and society.

Good things come to those...


Franziska Harnisch, artist