Artist Received $84,000 From Museum and Hands In Two Empty Frames Titled “Take the Money And Run”

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

28 Sep 2021

A Danish artist given $84,000 by a museum to reproduce an old sculpture chose to pocket the money and hand in two empty frames.

Instead of what they asked for the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in ​​Aalborg, Denmark got the latest piece of new conceptual artwork from artist Jens Haaning.

Titled ‘Take the Money and Run’ Haaning left little to the imagination in regards to the meaning of the two pieces.

The actual piece was supposed to exhibit the banknotes themselves, effectively recreating a pair of artworks he made in 2007 and 2010 that represented the average annual incomes of an Austrian and a Dane, respectively. 

The artist told the Danish radio program P1 Morgen last week, “The work is that I have taken their money. It’s not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”

Haaning’s explanation for his “breach of contract” lies in retaliation to what he perceived as a paltry remuneration from the museum for his inclusion in the show.

The original pieces represent a “quantitative snapshot” of a moment in time, “Why should we show a work that is about Denmark… 11 years ago, or one that is about Austria’s relationship with a bank 14 years ago?” he asked.

“I encourage other people who have just as miserable working conditions as me to do the same. If they are sitting on some sh*t job and not getting money and are actually being asked to give money to go to work, then take the box and [run] off.”

The museum asked Haaning to return the cash, but the latter declined. The threat of police intervention has been touted if Haaning fails to produce the cash by the time the exhibition ends in January.