A Danish artist has taken 534,000 kroner (£61,000) that he was given by a museum to incorporate into an artwork, and changed the title of his piece to “Take the Money and Run”.
Jans Haaning had made an agreement with the Kunsten museum, in northern Denmark, that he would use the banknotes themselves to recreate a pair of artworks he made in 2007 and 2010 that displayed the difference between the annual incomes of an Austrian and a Dane. However, when the museum opened the box Haaning delivered for the installation, it found the money was missing from the two glass frames, and that the artwork’s title had been changed.
“The work of art is that I took their money,” Haaning told Danish broadcaster DR. He added: “It’s not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”
Haaning explained that the work was conceived in retaliation to what he perceived as a paltry remuneration from the museum for his inclusion in the show, claiming that the cost of reproducing the original pieces misses the point of their initial creation, in that they 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.
According to Bloomberg, Kunsten is keen for Haaning to return the cash, and is considering whether or not to involve the police if has not done so by the end of the exhibition in January 2022. Haaning is reportedly declining to do so.