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The Waterworks of Money

Although money plays a key role in our lives, the workings of our monetary and financial system are a mystery to most of us. ‘The Waterworks of Money’ is an attempt to demystify the world of big finance. It visualizes the flow of money through our society, its hidden power made manifest.

‘The Waterworks of Money’ is a collaboration of cartographer Carlijn Kingma, investigative financial journalist Thomas Bollen, and professor New Finance Martijn van der Linden. Kingma spent 2300 drawing hours, based on in-depth research and interviews with more than 100 experts, ranging from central bank governors and board members of pension funds and banks to politicians and monetary activists.

If you see money as water, our monetary system is the irrigation system that waters the economy. The better the flow, the more prosperous society will be. Just as water makes crops thrive, so money sets the economy in motion.

Or at least that’s the idea.

In reality, inequality is growing and many countries are dealing with a ‘cost of living crisis’. The progress with making our economies sustainable is stalling, while financial instability remains an ongoing threat. These problems cannot be seen in isolation from the architecture of our money system. If we truly want to tackle them, we will have to address the design flaws of our current money system.

About the project

We started ‘mapping’ our money system in 2020. With the help of many international partners and contributors we launched the first chapter in Dutch at Follow the Money in our home country the Netherlands in October 2022.

The works of art were exhibited from 16 October 2022 until 29 January 2023 at Rijksmuseum Twenthe, and are currently on view in the exhibition 'The Future of Money' at the KunstMuseum The Hague (14 April, 2023 until 8 September 2023), one of the leading museums in the Netherlands.

An enlarged copy of the artwork is momentarily on display at the lobby of the Dutch Ministry of Finance and at Rabobank. From 20 May till 26 November 2023 the project is the centerpiece at the Dutch Pavilion of the Architecture Biennale of Venice.

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