“Hero”, a live stream video installation from July 31 through August 6, 2015 featured a live rat in a glass tank chewing on a pile of $20 bills with a coalescence of digital imagery in the background. Hero, a provocative materiality of a under explored subject in contemporary art asked Why Andrew Jackson is still on 8.1 Billion bank notes in year 2015.
The work drew on Jackson extreme wealth accruement through Slavery and his Indian Removal Act. Native American culture perceived as a hindrance to the emergent White European American “civilization” at the time but, now it’s 2015 and what has changed?
Jackson (like all racially motivated nationalists) thought that what he was doing was promoting social evolution. This, in contrast to a historic American sluggishness toward change e.g. June 17, 2015 the first introduction of a female figure to the face of the American bank notes ($10 bill) demonstrates completely opposing values, particularly for a Country obsessed with heroes and it’s own heroism.
Jackson’s policies are still felt today. More than one in four Native Americans live in poverty, according to 2014 data, and Native un-employment rates are charted at double the national average. According to a Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice analysis of Centers for Disease Control data, cited by Al Jazeera, “between 1999 and 2011 Native American’s were killed by police at a higher rate than any racial group in the country.”
The installation drew on Rogers’ concern for the plight of Native Americas living on reservations now ad her Cherokee heritage (her great grandmother walked the Tail of Tears), as well as Andrew Jackson’s history of slave ownership and his policies of Native American removal.