The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Talk About the Money”

Talk About the Money
Poem by Wanda Coleman
Directed by Mark Pellington
From the PBS series The United States of Poetry, produced by Bob Holman and Josh Blum, 1995

I found Talk About the Money intriguing. Wanda Coleman recites her poem as a seductress, enticing and luring the viewer into believing her, just like any good sales person. As her presentation becomes more aggressive, she insists that we need to talk money to understand the currency of our time. I take this as a warning that unfortunately has more truth than this reviewer wants to handle. The gap between the haves and the used-to-haves or have-nots is rapidly growing.

The opening image is of one of Barbara Kruger’s works: We’ve exploded because they’ve got Money and God in their pockets. Kruger worked in advertising and her art is politically/feminist based. Her work is very powerful and a good opener to this video poem. The flashing on and off of advertising slogans is a nice touch. It appears pretty chintzy, which is a welcome addition to the message Coleman is very effectively getting across. The fact that it appears to be cheaply made adds to the impact. It reminds me of one of those late-night infomercials (they will even throw in another one if you act now!) for something you don’t really need but are now lured into buying. Then whatever you bought breaks or isn’t what you thought it might be and you’re out $19.95 plus shipping.

Money is a systematic theory that we all need to adhere to, like it or not. I think by collaborating on this video, Wanda Coleman had the foresight to warn us of what is happening economically today—though unfortunately this is a pattern which has been repeating throughout time.

I love the rotating piggy banks. All the imagery is perfect and matches the meaning of the poem. It’s shoddy, ugly and presented in such a way that whoever sees it will never want to watch another infomercial ever again.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl Gross (website, blog) is an illustrator, painter, writer, and motion graphic artist living and working in the New York/Jersey City area. She is a professor at Pratt Institute (where she received her MFA) and Bloomfield College.

Her work has appeared in numerous festivals and publications as well as gracing the walls of many galleries, corporate and museum collections.

“I equate my work with creating and building an environment, transforming my inner thoughts into reality. Beginning with the physical process, I work in layers. I am involved in solving visual and verbal complexities such as design and narrative. My urban influence has indeed added an ‘edge’ to my work.”

Cheryl has often been compared to “Dr. Seuss on crack.”