Exploiting the Credit Card Hell

Exploiting the Credit Card Hell


It’s Halloween again and I decided to see what Cain Motter has been up to. Regular readers may recall that two years ago we reported that the Los Angeles-based artist had found an ingenious way of paying off his credit card debt. He’d created a hell of it. Motter was creatively destroying the plastic symbols of his indebtedness by melting them into visions of what he thinks they truly represent. Then he would sell them for $1,200 apiece.


Now, I don’t really know how successful the artist has actually been in monetizing his hellish venture. However, when I revisited his Facebook page this morning, I discovered that he’d added quite a few pieces of tortured plastic to his collection. So I decided to share it with you.

Cain Motter’s Credit Card Hell



For those of you who’ve never heard of Cain Motter, here is how the author himself explained to the BBC the story behind his fascination with misshapen credit cards:

I started college in 1994 and they apparently sold students’ information to banks, so I received credit card applications in the mail. I didn’t have any intention of using them but one bank said it was good to have in case of an emergency, so I decided to get one.


A couple of weeks later they sent out a $50 (?ú32) cheque made out to me so I put it in my account, but then I got a bill and it turned out to be a cash advance. I couldn’t believe they could operate that way and was really mad, so I decided I would figure out a way I could reverse that money flow and have money coming back to me.


I first made pendants out of the cards, but no-one was interested and I was getting frustrated so I thought I’d just burn it. I was trying to set it on fire and that’s when it turned to a rubber consistency. So I pulled and stretched it and as soon as I saw how elastic it became I knew I could work with it.


I then accepted all credit card applications to use them for art, but in time I ran out of money. I had all these credit cards so I actually started using them to live and now I’m in the same situation as a lot of other people in debt.


At some point I’ll pay them off with the money that I’m making from the cards. I wanted to rise above the whole mess but it is more entertaining this way — it’s like feeding bacon to a pig. But I don’t spend on credit cards anymore.


I did a show in 1995 with about 10 card sculptures and no-one was ever on the same page as me — everyone was happy with their credit cards. But I said: ‘Just wait, if they can trick me then there’s a lot of other people that are going to fall for this.’ I’ve been doing it all these years and finally a lot more people relate with me.


I only sell prints of my sculptures because my goal is to get my whole collection of credit and store cards into a museum like the Smithsonian because it’s culturally relevant and credit cards will become obsolete in the not-too-distant future.


I’ve also started recreating my small sculptures into the large, so I’ve made a credit card guillotine that’s 8ft tall with a steel blade. If my name gets out there and I’m able to get more money for my work, I’d like to take cards from people who are in debt and help them pay it off by using their credit cards as art.


It is not known how many hellish rectangles the artist needs to sell to get himself out of debt, but he’s clearly determined to file as many credit card applications as it takes.


Finally, here is a video of Cain Motter himself explaining to Renegade Reporting’s Stephen Seidel why exactly he was doing all that.



Image credit: Cain Motter.

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  1. Fiona

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