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Carlijn Kingma
Carlijn Kingma

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The Waterworks of Money — Future Money Final Grant Report

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Project Summery

The structure of our money system is not a natural phenomenon. The way ‘the waterworks of money’ is organized, is ultimately a political choice. We can choose to change this architecture, so that the financial sector serves society and helps to tackle the major challenges of the age.

If you see money as water, our monetary system is the irrigation system that waters the economy. The better the flow, the more prosperous society will be. Just as water makes crops thrive, so money sets the economy in motion. Or at least that’s the idea. In reality, large sections of society face financial drought, while at the top, money laps against the skirting boards. A handful of billionaires controls more wealth than half the world’s population combined.

Unequal access and financial illiteracy
The huge growth of the financial sector plays an important role in the increase in inequality. There is more money than ever before, but a growing proportion of it flows within a financial circuit that is accessed mostly by big financial players, multinationals and the very wealthiest. At the same time many people in our society do not have access to the digital payments system and are excluded from any form of saving or investment. Because of this unequal access, the growing quantity of money is driving up share prices, house prices and management fees, while most of the money does not reach the everyday economy – where it can be used for productive investments, generates income and adds social value.

In 2009, journalist Matt Taibbi wrote: “In the age of the Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations, most of us are financial illiterates.” Today, the world of money and finance is still inaccessible due to the technical and complex language of bankers and economists, and therefore most of us are excluded. The architecture of the money system is, however, a political subject and should be accessible to all of us.

The power of imagination
Large-scale systemic change will be unavoidable if we are to progress as a society. And such change is born in the imagination. The reform of our monetary system will also begin with the power of imagination. If it were up to you, what parts of the economy would you like to see flourish? What would you water? What channels will need to be closed, and what new ones dug? How can we give all people equal access to the money system? This project aims to improve societies financial literacy and contribute to a future money system that is more equitable and inclusive.

For this project, four cartographies of our money system were drawn. The first one, The Waterworks of Money, explains the workings of the current money system. The second, third and fourth are future scenarios, are made to fuel the transformative power of imagination on an alternative monetary future. From the cartographies we have created two animations, three audio and video tours and several publications and exhibitions. Below, you will first find a description of the broad and intensive collaboration that was necessary to create the maps. Next, you will find a detailed overview of all the products, publications, exhibitions, events and prizes.

Investigating and describing socio-political issues requires joining forces. To develop the map 'The waterwork of our money', Thomas, Carlijn and Martijn collaborated with over a hundred experts from various public and private (financial) institutions. Carlijn was invited to be an artist-in-residence at Rabobank for 2 years, where she was allowed to enter the bank and interview all employees and management. Furthermore, the team interviewed experts from several financial institutions such as the Dutch Ministry of Finance, Triodos Bank, Rabobank, ABN, DNB, AFM, PGGM, APG, ABP and Deloitte. The team interviewed numerous (Dutch and foreign) politicians, journalists, writers, activists and researchers. Thomas conducted a small part of the interviews and published them on the YouTube channel De Nieuwe Wereld. Some of the interviews were conducted in a public setting (more about this under the heading 'activities').

To develop the future scenarios, we collaborated with or interviewed thinkers from the financial world, amongst others: Stanford professor Anat Admati, Cornell University professor Saule Omarova, Columbia University professor Katharina Pistor professor, politician, writer and economist Yanis Varoufakis, activist for climate justice and equality and University of Amsterdam professor Joyeeta Gupta, climate activist and money researcher Anne Kerwers, former director of the Central Bank of Spain Miguel Fernandez Ordonez and the International Movement for Monetary Reform. The waterwork team is currently still discussing the possible development of new scenarios with leading thinkers.

Products: Cartographies, animations, publications
For this project, four cartographies of our money system were drawn. The first one, The Waterworks of Money, explains the workings of the current money system. The second, third and fourth are future scenarios, were made to fuel the transformative power of imagination on an alternative monetary future. The cartographies were the base products from which two animations, three audio and video tours, several publications and exhibitions and a website were created.

The ILF Future Money Grant was used to create the second animation through The Waterworks of Money, the three future scenarios stories, all the translations, the narrations of the future scenarios, a publication and an international website.

1. The second animation of The Waterworks of Money
In order to tell the story of the three alternatives, additional understanding of the workings of the current system was needed. Therefore, the team focussed first on the making of a second animation.

The second animation shows that the design flaws causing instability in our financial system have not been fundamentally addressed in or after the credit crisis of 2008. Some of the measures taken by our governments and central banks have actually created new incentives for excessive risk taking and exacerbated inequality within society.

The response to the crisis has also boosted a new kind of ‘asset manager capitalism’. Asset management firms like BlackRock and Vanguard have grown into major power players. They are responsible for investing our pension savings and control trillions of dollars in assets. Just like the banks before them, they are now ‘too big to fail’. Who actually benefits from this system?

The animation also explores new monetary channels and policy options that haven’t been used in the past decade, but could be deployed in the future to make major improvements to the system as a whole. Could the introduction of a digital euro or dollar – also called Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) – improve financial stability and make the monetary system more equitable? In the future scenarios the underlying ideologies of these design choices that are currently being made are further unraveled.

2. Three future scenarios
Three future scenarios were developed, in image and word, to show that it is possible to imagine a different monetary architecture. Perhaps even a fairer, and better architecture that could make the monetary system work for all of us. In researching these future scenarios the team has collaborated with multiple thinkers and experts within the field (as described in the chapter ‘Collaboration’). The future scenarios provide long term visions as well as concrete steps for direct improvements within the near future.

In all three scenarios we have worked out various options to make our payment systems more accessible, inclusive and equitable than our current system. We also focus on centering the system around another set of values than the profit motive, which currently dominates everything else. The ILP goal of ‘an open and inclusive payments network that puts humanity first’ is exactly what the scenarios aim to explore.

The big question that we would like to answer with our scenarios: how can we accomplish a more human centric money system? The three future scenarios explore radically different options to make the transaction/payments and money system serve society as a whole. Open payments technology plays a pivotal role in all three of our scenarios, but in each of them the way these technologies are implemented is very different.

The Valley of Debt-Free Money is a society that is no longer dependent on privately owned commercial banks for the creation of money and payment transactions. The public money system provides a safe way to pay and save. A flourishing private investment market exists alongside this, where risks are taken in a conscious and well-considered way. Public safety nets for the financial sector are a thing of the past. Here the way is open for new kinds of financial institutions to compete with the banking sector of old. This scenario is being developed in collaboration with former president of the Spanish central bank, Miguel Fernandez Ordóñez and several members of the International Movement for Monetary Reform. It is inspired by the writings of Stephanie Kelton and The Chicago Plan for monetary reform that was developed in the 1930s.

The Agora of Democratic Money visualizes a society where power over money and capital has been democratized. The monetary authority is subject to democratic control, and it allocates the new money in the form of a universal basic income. Shares and voting rights in companies are held by the employees. This scenario was developed with the Greek economist and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Cornell university professor Saule Omarova and Columbia University professor Katharina Pistor.

In The Republic of a Thousand Coins everyone can make their own money. The state no longer dictates what currency must be used to pay taxes. This creates a diverse monetary landscape in which currencies coexist and compete with each other. This scenario was developed in collaboration with supporters of free banking and initiators of various community currency projects. It is inspired by current technological developments, cryptocurrency initiators, the book The Denationalization of Money by Friedrich Hayek and the work of Belgian economist Bernard Lietaer.

After conducting the research and drawing the cartographies of the future scenarios, the storylines of the future scenarios were written. This was a difficult process with lots of iterations. The descriptions of the future scenarios were initially scientific and explanatory. In recent months we have been working on creating narrating texts with a narrator and a storyline. These texts have been recorded and translated into video narratives using micrio. They cannot yet be exported to video files, but micrio is currently working on that. The videos can already be showed in viewers mode via de micrio work desk in case of a presentation. The future scenarios are presented in various places (such as Pakhuis de Zwijger, the ILF Summit) and the team will continue to present them in multiple places in the coming months. In September 2024 the video narratives will be on show for the broad audience for the first time in the Brutus ArtLab and in November the scenarios will be presented and discussed at the Dutch Ministry of Finance.

In the digital environment of the ILF the cartographies and narration audio files of the extended tours will be uploaded.

3. Digital publications and website
The translated animations are published at YouTube in order to be freely available:
First animation:
Second animation:
The videos of the future scenarios will be published on YouTube in the Fall of 2024, at the time of the opening of the exhibition at Brutus ArtLab.

To increase the reach of the stories, the team collaborated with online journalism outlet Follow the money, who developed a separate landing page to publish the animations of The Waterworks of Money. The Dutch publications can be found at: The translated English publications can be found at:

As described in the initial project proposal, the team has developed a website on which all the developed products as well as events, exhibitions and background information are published as well: In addition, the visitor can wander through the map using the interactive digital environment developed by micrio.

4. The visual book ‘The Waterworks of Money’
As initially described in the project plan, the team has worked on a book. However, the book project became so extensive that it was decided to divide the book into two books: A visual book with descriptions of the cartographies and a textual book. The visual book has been completed in May and is self-published by the team, the book can be purchased at the exhibition 'Let's Talk Money' in the Boijmans van Beuningen Depot in Rotterdam and will soon also be available on the project's website. The second book is in the making and will be a lengthy textual book based on all interviews and knowledge acquired during the project. This book will be published by the publisher of Follow the money and is expected in early 2025.

5. Educational material
Martijn is professor of New Finance at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Over the past year, he and two colleagues translated the project into teaching materials. The course that has been developed is called Critical Thinking and challenges students to see the monetary system as a set of agreements instead of a given. It is a value-laden subject about the structure of our monetary system. The course is currently being expanded to a broader module that will start in the autumn of 2024.

6. Documentary
At the beginning of 2022, Carlijn was approached by documentary maker Ariane Greep. Greep has recorded the making of The Waterworks of Money series and made it into a documentary called 'The world according to Carlijn'. The documentary premiered at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam at the end of January 2024, was shown 130 times in theaters throughout the Netherlands and can be seen on national television on October 8, 2024 in the Close Up NPO 1 program. The documentary is translated into English and is currently awaiting the outcome of several international film festivals.

The aim of the project is to make the monetary system accessible and to address the problems within the monetary system. In addition to publications, books, a website, teaching materials and a documentary, several exhibitions, lectures, workshops and other activities were organized during the project.

1. Museum exhibitions:
Exhibition Rijksmuseum Twenthe (2022, 6 months)
Exhibition Kunstmuseum The Hague (2023, 6 months)
Exhibition Dutch Pavilion Venice Biennale (2023, 6 months)
Exhibition Boijmans van Beuningen Depot (2024, 8 months)
Exhibition Brutus Artspace (2024, 3 months)

All exhibitions were opened publicly and always focussed on a substantive public debate on the monetary system. The exhibition in the Kunstmuseum The Hague was opened by Laura van Geest, chairman of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). The exhibition in the Dutch Pavilion was opened by State Secretary for Culture and Media Gunay Uslu. The conference in the Kunstmuseum The Hague was opened by Dutch Minister of Finance Sigrid Kaag. The exhibition in the Boijmans van Beuningen Depot opened with a debate between DNB director of financial markets Aerdt Houben and Stanford professor Anat Admati. Numerous events and tours are also organized during the exhibitions. For example, an evening program was organized in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in collaboration with Follow the money and a green finance think tank representative.

To take the story beyond the journalistic and museum sphere, the works were printed as soon as they were finished on four wooden panels, with the dimensions of a shipping container (two long sides, two short ones). These panels have traveled all over the country. This traveling exhibition was accompanied by lectures, workshops and other types of events. Reproductions of the works were made for some of the locations below so that they could be given a permanent place.

Non-museum exhibitions of the traveling panels:
Music festival Lowlands 2023 (3 days)
The Hague University of Applied Sciences, 2023 (2 months)
TU Delft, 2023 (2 months)
Deloitte, 2023 (2 months)
Dutch Innovation Days Enschede, 2023 (1 week)
Ministry of Finance, 2023 (permanent)
Rabobank, 2023 (permanent)
Gallery Untitled, 2023 (6 months)
Triodos Bank, 2023 (permanent)
Springtij Festival 2023 (3 days)
Economy Education Week 2023 (1 week)
Leadership conference Rabobank, October 2023 (1 week)
Interledger Summit, San Jose, Costa Rica, December 2023 (3 days)
Dutch Design Week, October 2023 (10 days)
Radius CC, Delft, May 2024 (3 months)
International Film Festival Rotterdam, January 2024 (1 week)
Paradiso Amsterdam facade exhibition, June 2024 (6 weeks)
Conference Belgium, October 2024 (1 week)

_Presentations, lectures and workshops _
The Hague University of Applied Sciences, several times in 2023
Brutus ArtLab lecture, February 14, 2023
Lecture at Delft University, March 2023
Dutch Innovation Days, Enschede, May 2023. Lecture: The Uncomfortable Truth About Money
VPRO Tegenlicht Meet-Up, Neude Library, April 17, 2023. Lecture: The future of our money
Ministry of Finance, lecture + workshops, April 2023
Springtij Festival Workshops, September 2023
CityTalks, September 2023. Show me the money
Information Design Conference, October 2023
VPRO Talk: Dutch Design Week, October 2023
Interledger Summit, San Jose, Costa Rica. Lectures + discussion, November 2023
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) Premiere documentary 'The World of Carlijn', January 2024
Studium Generale University of Twente (2024)

Conference ‘The Future of Money’
In September 2023, Team Waterwerk, in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Rabobank, Deloitte, Triodos Bank, Follow the money and The Hague University of Applied Sciences, organized a 3-day conference called 'The future of our money' with the future scenarios as a starting point. The central question was: What do we water and what not? The conference was a great success and sold out every day. The conference was opened on Wednesday by Minister of Finance Sigrid Kaag, who spoke on stage with Thomas, Carlijn and Martijn about the problems in our monetary system. The days were filled with lectures, guided tours, dialogue sessions and a debate. It was special to see how design can be the starting point for a large-scale public conversation.

Speakers on the first day were: Sigrid Kaag (Minister of Finance), Hans Stegeman (Triodos chief economist), Anne Kervers (researcher at the UvA and active at Extinction Rebellion), Sarah van Hugte (SER and the NEW Economists podcast) and Team Waterwork.

The second day consisted of three parts: In the morning, guided tours of the exhibition. In the afternoon a dialogue session organized by Rabobank where ten discussion tables were held with experts from the financial sector who, by invitation, came to think about the question 'How can we achieve a fairer monetary system?'. These dialogue tables have resulted in a publication by Rabobank called: How do we form a monetary system that ensures more equality? - Insights from a dialogue.

In the evening, Triodos Bank organized the public event 'Money as the great equalizer: reality or future music?' in the museon. It was a well-attended evening with interesting speakers, including Vera Vrijmoed (researcher).

Day three of the conference consisted of two parts: Three lectures in the morning and a debate in the afternoon about the digital euro and the international dimension of the monetary system with Menno Middeldorp (Global Head RaboResearch), Jacqueline Haarsma (Ons Geld), Mahir Alkaya (SP member of parliament and reporter digital euro), Michiel Hoogeveen (JA21 member of the European Parliament and co-negotiator digital euro), Paul Tang (PvdA member of the European Parliament) and Theo Kocken (professor of risk management VU, Cardano Development ).

External media

Het Financieel Dagblad: Beelden over banken
Filmkrant: Geld is geen natuurverschijnsel
Contact: Veelgeprezen film over kunstwerk Carlijn Kingma te zien in Luxor
NRC: Nederlandse films op IFFR verdelen, maar zijn wel interessant
De Stentor: Met deze reusachtige tekening toont Carlijn (32) ons oneerlijke geldsysteem: ‘Rijken worden steeds rijker’
Interview Het Parool. Cartographer Carlijn Kingma: ‘Als ik het uitteken, worden de onderliggende structuren zichtbaar’
Springtij Festival Podcast. De ontrafeling van het geldstelsel
Dutch Design Awards. Announcement winners of the Dutch Design Awards.
The Conversion. Academic rigour, journalistic flair: Éduquer à la finance avec des réservoirs, des canaux et des pompes à eau
Our Economy:

Follow the money: 'We need to talk about financial illiteracy.'
The Conversation: 'To fight financial illiteracy, we mapped our money system as waterworks'
ZeroHedge: 'The Waterworks of Money’
KoozArch Essays: 'Unbuilding money: the agency of architectural drawings to debunk the monetary system that took us hostage'
De Groene Amsterdammer: 'Hoe kunst bijdraagt aan een nieuw financieel stelsel'
Interview Hard//Hoofd: 'Ignorance isn't bliss: Ons geld ontleed'
Reformatorisch Dagblad. 'Het geldstelsel loopt aan alle kanten vast'
Interview NRC. Als we willen, kunnen we ons geldstelsel veranderen.
Interview Tubantia. Carlijn Kingma kijkt achter façades financiële wereld, haar tekening is nu te zien in Rijksmuseum Twenthe: ‘Geld is als water’

Audiotour Radio 4, Opium (2023)
VPRO Nooit Meer Slapen (2022)
Interview Radio 4, Opium (2024)
Conversation Radio 1. Program: Spraakmakers. (2024)

Zwarte Zwanen, Omroep Max. Episode 9 - Waarom simpel als het moeilijk kan?
Tijd voor Max, Omroep Max.

Interledger Foundation podcast
New Comfort Zones Podcast
De Nieuwe Wereld

The project has won several awards:
Winner of the journalistic prize 'Master Storytellers' 2023
Nominated for the investigative journalism prize 'De Tegel' 2023
Winner of the Amsterdam Prize for Art in the category 'Artwork of the Year' 2023
Winner of the Dutch Design Awards in the Design Research category 2023

Progress on Objectives (KPI’s)

Reflection on the process and the achievement of goals
The main objective of the project was to develop an accessible language to include more people in the conversation about the (digital) future of the money system. The project aims to give underserved communities the knowledge and language to debate the current money system and ask for systemic change. The American economist Cochrane stated in 2019: "We voters need to tell our politicians which kind of central bank we want." Therefore, more voters, especially voters who are poorly served by the current money system and could benefit substantially from systemic change, need to understand how the central bank, commercial banks, and other financial institutions are currently functioning and which alternatives are available.

Have these goals been achieved? Five maps have been made in the metaphorical language of water that depict the functioning of the monetary system. The developed products have reached a wide and diverse audience in many respects. The animations have been published on many different types of platforms. From Follow the money to a French academic magazine and from the American ZeroHedge to the Dutch Reformatorisch Dagblad. The project has been presented to a wide variety of audiences. From music festivals and money conferences to educational institutions and national television. The work has been exhibited in a wide variety of places: from the Ministry of Finance to the ILF Summit in Costa Rica and from the Venice Biennale to the thousands of living rooms of people who have bought an A1 poster. The team has also given presentations in various places: from the Dutch Bank to debt relief organizations and from a group of private bankers from ABN to the Dutch Design Week.

By translating the animations into English, developing an additional animation through the map of the current system and creating three future scenarios including audio and video tours the team aimed to expand on the topic and reach a broader audience.

Although we received messages from many people outside of The Netherlands that they now finally understand the bigger system, it turned out to be hard to circulate the story to an international audience. It took a lot of energy to reach out to international platforms to publish the english animations.

The self published English animations reached an audience of respectively 30k and 9k. We have managed to publish the story at several other international news outlets, such as:
Follow the money Europe
KoozArch Essays
Our New Economy
The Conversation (English and French)
J+A Architects (will be published in August 2024)

A positive outcome of the english translations was that we’ve got approached by multiple parties offering to translate the english texts into other languages. The YouTube animations are translated into Chinese, German, Spanish and Swedish.

The project has been exhibited at several international conferences and artspaces. Highlight was the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennial.

A spearhead of the project was involving young people in the debate about money. The Waterwork team has worked hard to achieve this objective. First of all, by keeping the stories understandable. Secondly, by developing teaching materials for The Hague University of Applied Sciences and giving lectures at various educational institutions. Thirdly, by offering free maps to teachers when purchasing a Follow the money membership. Several high school economics teachers have indicated that they use the map in their economics lessons. And finally, the team has exhibited and discussed their work at youth-oriented venues, such as the FOMO festival in Eindhoven.

Most of the products that were developed took longer and more resources than expected. Especially the future scenarios, which took about three months longer than expected since it turned out to be challenging to develop good narrations. As a result, most of the presentations, exhibitions and publications are yet to come.

To conclude, the Waterwork team has worked very hard to achieve the goals that were set when proposing the project, and believes it has to some extent achieved these goals. However, the team feels there is still a lot of room for improvement and continuation, which is why they will continue working on the project.

What’s Next?

The Waterwork team will continue to work on the project. On the one hand, this is due to the prolonged production time, on the other hand, due to the success of the project. The Waterwork team is committed to improving financial literacy and opening windows of imagination to a more inclusive and fair money system. The Waterwork team is currently searching for new collaborations, opportunities and funds to continue researching, drawing and organizing events about the future of money .

Community Support

On behalf of Carlijn, Thomas and Martijn: We are extremely grateful to the IntelLedger Foundation for supporting our project. The ILF allowed us to broaden the scope of our project to an international audience, to develop an animation and future scenarios, a website and educational material. Without the ILF, it would have been incredibly complicated to put in the hours for the in-depth work that was needed, to create the future scenarios and to develop the additional products of narration and promotion. Furthermore, the ILF and her community became a sparring partner, not only at the summit but also during the recurring meet-ups between other artists involved. A special thanks to the always present Lawil, who helped us in the process as well as always remaining critical to content. We are truly thankful.

Relevant Links/Resources (optional)
First animation:
Second animation:

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