Tally Sticks

‘'Tally Sticks remind us of how our large global structure remains bound by imaginary strokes that come from interconnected promises of much more distant and deeper voices that, the tighter and stronger they are, the more fragility they entail.’' – Santiago Montoya

Using wood sourced, carefully chosen (only trees were taken which were naturally uprooted or already decaying) and masterfully carpentered from the Cerro de Armas, Santander region of the Colombian rainforest, Santiago has created monumental structures. Mimicking the interior skeleton of a skyscraper, these monolithic wooden towers stand strong, yet are held together at every join with monetary currency tied into knots; fortified only by shreds of paper.
The title, Tally Sticks, derives simply from the root definition of the term. A tally in archaic English meant an identical match, or a duplicate of something that could be copied multiple times, while in more recent history the word referred to a piece of wood, scored with notches to serve as a type of early accounting system. Today the term is widely accepted as a way to ‘keep score’ – a way to measure one’s success or equally as such, one’s failures.

‘‘The Tally Sticks project establishes the relationship between the exploitation of natural resources and the structure of the financial system, particularly revolving around the use of paper money. The use of wood from centenary trees that have died of natural causes within their life cycle in primary forests, to be ‘reconstructed’ using sections of bank notes, gives rise to a series of metaphors about the passage of time, the immediacy of the system in which we live now, and the eagerness to have ‘the future’ here and now; at any price.’’ – Santiago Montoya

The Tally Sticks project represents a culmination of Santiago’s views on the sustainability of society and the fragility of our financial and socio-political infrastructure. Deeply personal to Santiago, this is his connection with his roots – both metaphorically given his Colombian heritage and also physically, as his family have been entrusted with a section of the Cerro de Armas rainforest to protect and preserve, which has been passed down through his family for generations.