A Danish museum that was duped by an artist expects to receive its money back.
The Kunsten Museum of Art in Aalborg, Denmark paid artist Jens Haaning $84,000 in advance to re-create two older sculptures. Instead, he kept the money without labor and called it conceptual art.
Haaning,a 56-year-old living in Copenhagen, tabbed his art as “Take the Money and Run” and it’s simply two blank whiteboard frames without anything on them.
“He stirred up my curatorial staff and he also stirred me up a bit, but I also had a laugh because it was really humoristic,” Lasse Andersson, director of the museum in the city of Aalborg, told the BBC’s Newsday on Thursday. “It’s the museum’s money and we have a contract saying that the money will be back on (January 16).”
Andersson did not specify if the museum will be seeking legal action. Haaning has been adamant in public interviews he has no intention of paying the museum back.
According to the written agreement of the artist and museum, obtained by Artnet, Haaning was tasked with exhibiting banknotes, effectively recreating a pair of artworks he made in 2007 and 2010 that represented the average annual incomes of an Austrian and a Dane.
“The work is that I have taken their money,” he told the Danish radio program PI Morgen last week. “It’s not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”
But Andersson refuted that claim. “We just signed up for an agreement with the Danish artists association that raises what artists are paid when they are exhibiting. I think Jens has kind of broken the bargain.”
The museum actually displayed the two empty frames on display in its ongoing art show, “Work it Out.”
Haaning was initially displeased with the compensation and frustrated he’d have to fork out around $4,000 of his own money to remake two older artworks that defeats the purpose of why they were originally made.
“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 (expletive) job and not getting money and are actually being asked to give money to go to work, then take the box and (run) off.”