Art or con job? Danish artist makes off with nearly $84,000

Published 30 Sep, 2021 01:08pm

“I encourage others who have just as miserable working conditions as I to do the the same,” says the artist.

An empty frame from Take the Money and Run by Danish artist Jens Haaning. Photo via The Guardian
An empty frame from Take the Money and Run by Danish artist Jens Haaning. Photo via The Guardian

A Danish artist who was was given a pile of money by a museum with which to create a piece of artwork, submitted two empty canvases — titled Take the Money and Run.

Jens Haaning was given the equivalent of nearly $84,000 in Danish kroner and euro bank notes by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg.

For its exhibition on labor conditions and money, entitled Work It Out that opened Sept 24, the museum commissioned him to recreate two of his earlier pieces, which featured bank notes attached to a canvas representing the average annual wage in Denmark and Austria. As well as lending him the notes, the museum also paid him 25,000 kroner ($3,900) for the work.

But when museum officials received the completed artworks, they were blank.

“The artwork is that I have taken the money,” Haaning told a radio show on the P1 channel that is part of Danish broadcaster DR this week. He declined to say where the money was.

Haaning, who is known as a provocateur, said the artwork represented his current work situation.

“I encourage others who have just as miserable working conditions as I to do the the same,” Haaning told P1. “If they are being asked to give money to go to work, then take the money and run.”

The museum says Haaning has broken the agreement on how to use the money. However, it has not yet decided whether to report Haaning to the police if the money is not returned before the exhibition ends in January.

Haaning, however, denies having committed a crime and insists he did produce a work of art.

“It’s not theft, it is a breach of contract, and the breach of contract is part of the work,”Haaning told P1. He was not reachable for comment on Wednesday.

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