4. An Oversized Dollar Bill

Jilly Ballistic dollar bill installation at Playwrights HorizonPhoto courtesy W42ST

Playwrights Horizon, the not-for-profit Off Broadway Theater has been closed since March 2020, but they’ve installed rotating art exhibitions on the front facade of its building on 42nd Street. The goal is to amplify “the shared aims of visual artists and theater-makers: pursuing social transformation, exposing contradictions of American life, and disrupting routine patterns. Our aim is to breathe new life into an established institution as we imagine our course forward.” Recently installed is an oversized $1 bill entitled “With Great Power Comes No Accountability,” designed by street artist Jilly Ballistic. On top of the dollar bill is written “Imagine 399,053 of these. Now imagine they are bodies.”

In fact, the number was updated from when it was first made, which had 352,464 deaths from COVID-19 in America. Both numbers are already outdated, as the current death count is around 443,000 in the United States. As the artist explains, “It’s difficult to conceptualize such large numbers, especially when those numbers are linked to something so tragic as these deaths. There’s a danger, though, if we don’t fully grasp the atrocity: we allow those in power to get away with murder. What better way for a politician to understand our pain than using money as a metaphor?”