"In 'Capital', Mark Wallinger chooses to parody a particular art historical genre: the full length court portrait. Each figure is positioned centrally in front of a grand architectural detail. But Wallinger's subjects are no princesses or presidents; company directors, chairwomen or chairmen, but down-and-out, homeless men and women, posing not in palatial interiors, but in the street, before the imposing entrances of well-known city banks. If there was no more to the reading of these works than can be summed up by the casual assertion that capital at the other end of the economic spectrum produces poverty, then we might be forgiven for concluding that the artist is making his political point with a bluntness not far removed from crassness. But there is a curious and palpable ambiguity about these figures, a feeling that they are acting out their role for us, the audience, at the behest of an invisible control. Like actors in a play, Wallinger's socially disadvantaged ragamuffins strut the stage of capital, exchanging intimate and knowing glances with the viewer, asking, on behalf of an extra-pictorial, authorial voice, that we consciously embrace artifice - that we knowingly suspend our disbelief.
This element of masquerade is integral to Wallinger's critical intention. By using friends - fellow artists, critics and writers - as models for the figures in these portraits, and at that same time making this subterfuge apparent, not only does he secure the work against the charge of voyeurism, but also successfully extends the reading of it into the realm of reflexive, ironic commentary. Accordingly, we are all implicated in the charade of 'Capital'. Either actually or metaphorically, we are all financial opportunists as well as the more-or-less innocent victims of capitalism's dehumanizing mechanisms. We might all, quite justifiably, be posed as economic and spiritual vagrants before the great bronze doors of the Chase Manhattan Bank, or stride its marble halls as surrogate executives and money-men." (J. Thompson, 'Mark Wallinger', London 1995, pp. 13-14).