Waterworks of Money kunstwerk van Carlijn Kingma

Let’s Talk Money

The project Waterworks of Money by Carlijn Kingma (1991) is the point of departure for the new exhibition at Rabo@Depot in Boijmans Van Beuningen. In a multidisciplinary collaboration, cartographer Carlijn Kingma, alongside financial economists Thomas Bollen and Martijn Jeroen van der Linden, spent three years exploring our monetary and financial systems – a critical but poorly understood part of our lives. As ‘artist in residence’ at Rabobank, Kingma worked with over a hundred industry professionals, academics, regulators, and reformers.

Portret van Carlijn Kingma

Waterworks of Money

Money increasingly permeates every aspect of our society yet few understand its creation process, what causes inflation, or why banks are bailed out with public funds. These issues are directly tied to larger challenges like growing economic inequality and recurrent financial crises. In 2023, the system's fragility stood out again: massive bank bailouts emphasized the ongoing need for public backstops, while record profits for commercial banks highlighted the gap between corporate gains and public losses.

Kingma, Bollen and Van der Linden show where structural problems require a fundamental rethink of our monetary and financial architecture. They emphasize that the structure of this system is a choice, not an inevitability. By reforming our monetary infrastructure, we can better align it with societal needs and ensure it supports broad economic sustainability and social welfare.

A major barrier to democratic change is the complex financial terminology that excludes most people from meaningful public discourse, concentrating control over our monetary system in the hands of a few. Kingma’s artistic work aims to dismantle this barrier. Her series of hand-drawn visualizations, using the metaphor of ‘money as water’, simplifies complex financial concepts. The Waterworks of Money project exposes flaws in our current system, and suggests alternatives to make the monetary and financial architecture better serve society as a whole.

The Waterworks team is not the only voice in this conversation. This exhibition includes various artworks from the Rabo Art Collection (Tim Breukers, Constant A. Nieuwenhuys, Meschac Gaba, Goldin+Senneby, Arne Hendriks, Chaim van Luit) or on loan (Mart Veldhuis), designed to provoke thought about money, debt, and financial systems, and encourage public engagement and dialogue to redefine our understanding and interaction with finance.

In our society, it is mostly money talking; to change that, we must also talk about money.


We made a special edition for the exhibition. Of course, Kingma's beautiful drawing didn't come about all at once; Carlijn tried, sketched and researched the best way to get Waterwerk on paper. And on those sketches, the research often just continued; She wrote down her thoughts and insights in pencil. Even the yellowed pieces of tape with which he hung on the wall of her studio are visible in the sketch.

The edition can be ordered via:


The exhibition 'Let's Talk Money' can be seen from 18 May to November 2024 in our exhibition space on the fourth floor of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. It is open from Thursday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Address: Museumpark 24, Rotterdam.

Photo: Carlijn Kingma, Waterworks of Money (detail), 2022 and portrait of Carlijn Kingma by Sanne Donders.