Throughout her work, Liz Glynn consistently explores historic systems of valuation. The artist completed her MFA in 2008 as the housing market crashed and the Great Recession began. That context fueled her interest in utility, worth, and the structure of economies—themes pointedly resonant again today.

In her 2014 installation, Hold Nothing, of which this chest was a part, Glynn recreated furniture once owned by Italy’s historic banking family, the Medici, during the height of its power in 15th-century Florence. Covered entirely in gold leaf, it resembles a gold bar—an easily recognized form that harks back to the first Egyptian ingots. Within the exhibition, she activated her furniture re-creations by appointing movers to carry and arrange them in the gallery space, periodically opening their lids to reveal empty interiors. As these actions unfolded, she read a text recounting the evolving immateriality of money over time. Her attention to this history is particularly poignant in the midst of today’s rise of cryptocurrency—the most extreme abstraction of finances yet.