Michael Stevenson. The Fountain of Prosperity (Answers to Some Questions About Bananas). 2006

Michael Stevenson The Fountain of Prosperity (Answers to Some Questions About Bananas) 2006

  • MoMA, Floor 3, 3 East The Robert B. Menschel Galleries

This is a replica of the MONIAC, a hydraulic proto-computer that economist Bill Phillips created in 1949 while studying at the London School of Economics. Adjustable pipes and containers direct flows of water which illustrate the flows of capital in and out of a national economy. (A Fortune magazine article from 1952, displayed nearby, explains how the machine works.)

In the early 1950s, the Central Bank of Guatemala purchased a MONIAC to study economic dependency as it undertook a reform program meant to loosen the United States’ monopoly on banana exports, its most profitable industry. But in 1954, a US-backed coup d’état overthrew the Guatemalan government, and the MONIAC disappeared. Stevenson reconstructed the eccentric machine through extensive research on its whereabouts—comparing it to “the fountain of prosperity”—and the hopes placed in it.

Gallery label from Chosen Memories, April 30–September 9, 2023
Plexiglass, steel, brass, aluminium, rubber, cork, string, concrete, dyed water, pumps and fluorescent lamps
96 7/16 × 61 13/16 × 43 11/16" (245 × 157 × 111 cm)
Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Gonzalo Parodi
Object number
© 2023 Michael Stevenson Digital image: © 2023 Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest
Media and Performance

Research in progress; information about this work may be incomplete.


Michael Stevenson, 2006
Vilma Gold Gallery, London
Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York and Caracas, 2011
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2017

Exhibition history

San Francisco, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, "c/o the Central Bank of Guatemala", November 28, 2006 - February 24, 2007

London, Vilma Gold, "Some Answers to a few Questions about Bananas", July 13 - August 12, 2007

London, Tate Modern, "The Irresistible Force", September 20 - November 25, 2007

Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, "MICHAEL STEVENSON", April 5 - June 19, 2008

Toronto, The Power Plant, "Not Quite How I Remember It", June 7 - September 1, 2008

Gothenburg, Göteborgs Konsthall, "History Acts", October 25, 2008 - January 11, 2009

Karlsruhe, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, "The Global Contemporary, Kunstwelten nach 1989", September 17, 2011 - February 19, 2012

Geneva, Salon International d'art, "Magic Love Trade Objects", May 24 - 27, 2012

New York, SculptureCenter, "Viewing Room: Michael Stevenson", July 6 - August 3, 2015

Los Angeles, Regen Projects, "Primordial Saber Tararear Proverbiales Sílabas Tonificantes Para Sublevar Tecnocracias Pero Seguir Tenazmente Produciendo Sociedades Tántricas", September 9 - October 28, 2017


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