Schuld macht frei

Schuld macht frei, 2017
LED message board

The German word “Schuld” has a double meaning: “debt” but also “guilt.” The seemingly illogical phrase “Schuld macht frei,” reminiscent of the infamous Nazi slogan “Arbeit macht frei,” means “debt/guilt sets you free.” Translated into 20 of the world’s most spoken languages, the phrase appears over and over on a scrolling message board reminiscent of stock market imagery. In each language, the translation of “Schuld” carries its own multifaceted meaning beyond simply “debt” in a financial sense. The message’s absurdity and its anachronistic medium reflect the incompatibility of culture-specific morality with globalized financial markets and monetary policy.