Credit Crunch Lexicon

A site-specific work first installed at Swiss Cottage Gallery in London, June 2012, as part of the exhibition Let This Be A Sign. It has subsequently been re-created for the group exhibition Show Me The Money: The Image of Finance 1700 to the present, which was  installed at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland (June – August 2014) and John Hansard Gallery in Southampton (October – November 2014).

The 2008 economic crisis moved terminology and jargon from the business pages on to the front pages of our newspapers, radios and TV sets; these words have become part of our everyday language. Arranged alphabetically to create a form of concrete poetry, the words and phrases scrutinize the miasma of rhetoric, hyperbole and sometimes, contradictory terms used by politicians, economists, protesters and journalists to describe the economic downturn.

Between 2010-2012 Roberts collated words and phrases from political speeches, papers from the governor of the Bank of England, newspaper headlines, protest poster slogans and economic reports, all of which reference the economic situation from 2007 to 2012.  In total there are 5841 words starting with A CRISIS IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE and A DECADE OF AUSTERITY, finishing with ZERO-SUM GAME and ZEROFLATION.

“The Credit Crunch Lexicon is a vast, wall-sized sequence of written phrases similarly extracted from media coverage, and rendered in a style that makes them appear akin to signage. The ‘signs’ provide an endless stream of exhortations or directions that contain manifest contradictions. The work is, then, a kind of ‘library’ collated over a five-year period: a monumental collage of twenty-first century news about the financial crisis.” Alistair Robinson, Programme Director, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art.

A version of the lexicon has also been reproduced using an LED Scrolling Text Moving Message Sign Board, similar to those traditionally found on bank trading floors.


The Credit Crunch Lexicon list of words & phrases (pdf)

Essay by Alistair Robinson from the book Show Me The Money, published by Manchester University Press, 2014 (pdf)

Selection of free postcards featuring abstracts from The Credit Crunch Lexicon (link)