A museum gave $ 84,000 to a Danish artist to use in an artwork. When he delivered the part he was supposed to make, it didn’t go as promised. Instead, the artist, Jens Haaning, gave the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark two blank canvases and said they were titled “Take the money and run.”
Haaning was asked to recreate two of his previous works: “Danish Average Annual Income” and “Austrian Average Annual Income”, first exhibited in 2007. Both used real cash to show the average income of the two countries. , according to a press release from the artist.
In addition to compensation for work, Haaning was also issued tickets to use at work, museum director Lasse Andersson told CBS News by email. His contract even stated that the museum would give Haaning an additional 6,000 euros to update the work, if necessary, Andersson said. At the time the works were initially displayed, the Danish piece featured median earnings of 328,000 kroner, roughly $ 37,800, while the illustrated Austrian median salary was around 25,000 euros or $ 29,000.
“We also have a contract that the $ 84,000 money that will be exhibited in the play is not Jens’s and that it must be returned when the exhibition closes on January 16, 2022,” Andersson said.
“The exhibition is called ‘Work it Out’ and it features works of art by many different contemporary artists,” he said, adding that the exhibition will be open from September 24 to January 16, 2022.
Andersson said that when they spoke to the artist about making the piece earlier this year, he accepted the contract and “indicated a fairly easy job.”
But when it was time for Haaning to actually deliver, he did the unexpected.
“The curator received an email in which Jens Haaning wrote that he had made a new artwork and changed the title of the work to ‘Take the money and run,'” Andersson said. “Later, we were able to verify that the money had not been invested in the work.”
In fact, frames meant to be filled with cash they were empty.
“The staff were very surprised when they opened the boxes. I was abroad when the boxes were opened, but suddenly I got a lot of mail,” Andersson said.
When he finally saw “Take the Money and Run,” Andersson said he really laughed. “Jens is known for his concept art and activist with a humorous twist. And he gave us that, but also a little wake-up call, as everyone knows wonder where the money went,” he said.
According to Haaning’s press release, “The underlying idea was to show how wages can be used to measure the value of work and to show national differences within the European Union. But changing the job title to” Take the Money and Run “Haaning” questions the rights of artists and their working conditions to establish more equitable standards within the art industry. ”
“Everyone would like to have more money, and in our society, labor industries are valued differently,” Haaning said in a statement. “The work of art is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement that says that we also have a responsibility to question the structures of which we are a part. And if these structures are completely irrational, we must break with them. It can. be your marriage, your job, it can be any kind of social structure. ”
Andersson said that while it was not what they had agreed to in the contract, the museum did get new and interesting art. “When it comes to the $ 84,000 amount, he has not broken any contracts yet, as the initial contract says we will have the money back on January 16, 2022.”
The museum director said they will wait and see what Haaning does, but if the money is not returned by January 16, “of course, we will take the necessary steps to make sure that Jens Haaning fulfills his contract.”
He said they are in contact with Haaning, whom he called a “well-known and well-respected artist in Denmark.” But they have yet to reach an agreement.