If you think of money as water, then our financial system is like an irrigation system, watering the economy. And just as irrigation helps crops grow, money allows the economy to flourish. As long as the money keeps flowing, society will thrive—or at least that’s the idea. In reality, large swaths of society remain parched, while a small group of people is swimming in money. Today, a handful of billionaires controls more wealth than half the world’s population combined.
Who creates and allocates our money? Where all does it go? And why doesn’t the financial system work for everyone? These questions are at the heart of The Waterworks of Money, a project by cartographer Carlijn Kingma, investigative financial journalist Thomas Bollen and professor of practice in new finance Martijn van der Linden (PhD).
They started to collaborate in the beginning of 2021. The first 14 months, they read tens of books and articles, and interviewed more than 100 experts – ranging from central bank governors and board members of pension funds and banks to politicians and monetary activists, made hundreds of sketches and verified those sketches with all parties and companies involved in the money system. Thereafter, the drawing of The Waterworks of Money started. Drawing the map took over 2200 hours, and was done in a little less than five months. In this period, they also developed the stories for the video animations. In the fall of 2022, they started the making of three future scenarios in collaboration with experts and movements from around the globe.
Last year, the maps, animations and texts have been showed in several art institution (Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Venice Biennale), festivals (Lowlands, Springtij), and financial institutions (Rabobank, Triodos, Deloitte, the Dutch Ministry of Finance).