Articles and Reviews

About the Dime Jersey-

"Commenting on a specific contemporary American religion, Adam Taye has created what he calls a “secular Mormon artifact.” Referring to Taye’s own religious upbringing, Dime Jersey (2007) is a glimmering basketball jersey coated with hundreds of coins, making it an impractically heavy garment. Hanging from a single sycamore branch, the jersey’s dimes recall a knight’s chain mail. The dimes face the same way, positioned so that the word “Liberty” is always visible to the viewer. Copper pennies form the number “78,” the seven made of pennies from 1977 and the eight made of pennies from 1978. This addresses the pertinent issue of race: the pennies Taye used to form the number "7" are all from 1977, the last year black males were not allowed to hold the priesthood in the Mormon Church, while the number "8" was created with pennies from 1978, the year the rule was overturned. The warm golden color of the pennies contrasts the shiny silver surfaces of the dimes, and one is perhaps tempted to forget that these metals – copper and cupronickel (the metal that replaced the more expensive silver-and-copper combination previously used to make dimes)—are charlatan materials of relatively small worth that convey value symbolically.

Conventionally, athletic shirts are designed to be light so that the wearer, here presumably a basketball player, can maximize his freedom of movement. As Taye has re-designed the jersey, it would literally weigh its wearer down, hindering and obstructing his movement. This can read allegorically: the mystical belief system literally weighing down its wearer. According to Taye, his interest in basketball is bound-up in his experience as a Mormon. He comments that it “was instilled [in me] that the second best thing to aspire to (if not lucky enough to be called a Prophet of God) was a career in the NBA.” He mentions that when pressed for space, a meeting would often take place on an empty basketball court, an obligatory part of every Mormon Church, and that the court would thus take on a mystical quality.

Taye culled two particular stories from passages in the Book of Mormon. The first story concerns Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, and his discovery of an ancient breastplate that is believed to have belonged to the prophet Mormon. Along with this breastplate, there were two golden plates with text in New Egyptian, as well as two mysterious and translucent rocks that Smith labeled “seer stones,” specifically called Urim and Thummin. When held in front of his eyes, he purported that the rocks enabled him to read the text and he thus was able to translate the words into English for all to read. As mentioned, the word “Liberty” is apparent on the face of the countless dimes, alluding to the second story. A soldier fighting for liberty, the General Moroni is a figure from the Book of Mormon who was named after the angel depicted as a gold-plated statue on the pinnacle of Mormon temples. Leading a battle, General Moroni rips his coat and writes the phrase “Liberty” on it as a symbol of his mission. This word is repeated on the face of each dime, though as Taye has arranged them, they hang upside down. The back of the jersey has a final element taken from Mormonism. Like the numbers created from pennies on the front side on the jersey, there is text on the verso, this one in the language Adamic, believed to be God’s original language. The coins spell “Pa Le Ale” which, according to Brigham Young, means, “Lord, Hear my voice.”
Taye’s choice of dimes (whose name etymologically derives from the French term for “tithe”) reflects the ten-percent tithe expected of church members, and the fact that a tithing member of the church would be protected. Therefore, Taye’s literal armor of dimes plays on this notion of the tithe as a protective gesture, placing Taye’s work in a lineage that goes back to medieval and Renaissance iconography of the Christian knight whose armor is meant to emblematize the defensive power of Christian faith, such as Albrecht Dürer’s Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), though of course Taye’s armor has a cynical subtext as it is constructed solely of money."

-Rebecca Ray Brantley, 2008
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