Black Friday and Exercises in Multiplication

@ 7:30pm

Black Friday refers to a short-lived financial crisis in the United States that occurred on Friday, September 24, 1869. The panic was precipitated when two financial speculators, James Fisk and Jay Gould, attempted to corner the U.S. gold market. On September 20 they began purchasing gold in New York City; by September 24 they controlled enough of the available supply in the city to bid up the price from about 140 to 163y. This rapid increase in the price of gold threw the stock exchange into confusion, and the prices of commodities fluctuated wildly. The inflationary run on gold was halted toward the close of the business day when U.S. Secretary of the Treasury George Sewall Boutwell announced that the federal government had made $4 million of its gold reserves available for trading. Fisk and Gould probably made a profit of about $11 million by their manipulations, but many businesspeople claimed to have been ruined by the panic.

The day after Thanksgiving in the United States is frequently referred to as Black Friday. The day is heavily promoted by retailers, and the day many U.S. consumers begin Christmas shopping. The origin of Black Friday comes from the shift to profitability during the holiday season. Black Friday was when retailers went from being unprofitable, or “in the red,” to being profitable, or “in the black”, at a time when accounting records were kept by hand and red indicated loss and black indicated profit.

Christoph Keller is Founder and Director of Revolver — Archiv fur aktuelle Kunst, a non-profit publishing house based in Frankfurt am Main, specializing in artists’ books, exhibition catalogues, audio projects and artists’ writings. Please see www.revolver-books.de for further information.

This project was made possible with the support of READ Books at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr Institute and the Canada Council for the Arts through their Visiting Foreign Artist programme.