Jens Haaning was to recreate two of his 2010 artworks for the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, which both depicted the average income of Austria and Denmark residents.
The museum’s director Lasse Andersson told CBS News that Haaning was given cash for use in the artwork itself, in addition to personal compensation.
“We also have a contract [saying] that the $84,000 to be displayed in the work is not Jens’ and that it must be paid back when the exhibition closes on 16 January 2022,” Andersson said.
The contract additionally stated that the artist would be given an additional 6,000 euros in case of any updates to the work.
“The exhibition is called ‘Work it Out’ and features works of art by many different contemporary artists,” the museum director said, adding that “Jens is known for his conceptual and activistic art with a humouristic touch” and that “he hasn’t broken any contract yet as the initial contract says we will have the money back on 16 January 2022.”
However, he said that “it was a bit of a wake-up call” as everyone at the museum wondered where the money had gone once they opened the boxes delivered by the artist.
A press release for the art reads: “[The pieces] show how salaries can be used to measure the value of work and to show national differences within the European Union.”
“But by changing the title of the work to ‘Take the Money and Run’ Haaning questions artists’ rights and their working conditions in order to establish more equitable norms within the art industry.”
According to Bloomberg, the artist has declined to return the cash to Kunsten museum.
The museum is deciding whether to report Haaning to the police if he doesn’t return the cash by the end of January, when the exhibition closes.
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