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ART

Danish Artist Makes Blank Canvases Called 'Take The Money And Run'

Por: María Isabel6 de octubre de 2021

A museum gave $84,000 to a Danish artist. He created a conceptual artwork called 'Take the Money and Run,' which is self-explanatory.

What is art? Art can be a word of only three letters, a very short extension for the meanings that are symbolically deposited in it. It is a question that not even the most hardcore art critics have been able to answer. Perhaps that is why art is what it is, because if its meaning is delimited, then it loses all meaning. But what happens when the art in question is blank canvases that should be filled with money. This story is true; it happened in Denmark where a museum gave $84,000 to a Danish artist to create a work of art. Instead, he delivered two blank canvases called 'Take the Money and Run.'

The Kunsten Art Museum in Aalborg, Denmark handed over $84,000 in cash for artist Jens Haaning to recreate two of his iconic works. 'An Average Danish Annual Income' and 'An Average Austrian Annual Income' were the ones chosen by the museum to recreate. The banknotes were supposed to appear on the canvases, just as Haaning did in 2007 with his original works. However, the Danish artist had a flash of creativity and decided to change his mind, upped the conceptual art and instead of placing the money on the canvases, he delivered two blank canvases. A work that reminds us of the Italian artist who sells his immaterial sculptures for 15 thousand dollars.

When the curator of the exhibition Work it Out, in which the paintings were to be exhibited, received a box with Haaning's art, he was completely baffled to discover the blank canvases. He also received an explanation from the artist that "he had made a new work of art and changed the title of the work to 'Take the money and run,'" explained Lasse Andersson, director of the museum.

An 'artistically' subversive act

Apparently, the Danish artist had an epiphany. He decided to use art to protest the working conditions under which artists work, not only in Europe but around the world. In a statement, Haaning explained that 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 title of the work to 'Take the Money and Run' is more about questioning the rights of artists and their working conditions to establish more equitable standards within the art industry.

In other words, he used the situation to give it a somewhat subversive twist. The Danish artist then explained that those two blank canvases are "a statement that says that we also have a responsibility to question the structures we are part of. And if these structures are completely irrational, we must break with them. It can be your marriage, it can be your job, it can be any kind of social structure."

However, although his idea may be a statement of critical questioning of the hegemonic system at whatever level, there are 84 thousand dollars at stake and a contract at stake. For now, the museum has been satisfied with the artist's action and in fact, they have exhibited the blank paintings in the exhibition. But when it ends in 2022, the artist is required by law to return the money to the museum. We will see what happens and whether subversive art is capable of challenging the institutions to such a degree.

Text and photos courtesy of Ecoosfera
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards


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