IIf you never understood the hype behind concept art, a Danish artist known for criticizing power structures in society just taught the world a masterclass on using art to spark conversation.

The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark, offered artist Jens Haaning 534,000 crowns, or about $ 84,000, to reproduce a pair of his older mixed art works. According to a written agreement obtained by Artnet, Haaning was supposed to use the actual banknotes of his payment to recreate two coins, “Austrian Average Annual Income” from 2007 and “Danish Average Annual Income” from 2010, to compare annual income. ways. of an Austrian and a Dane.

Instead, Haaning pocketed the money and presented the museum with two empty whiteboard frames, insolently renaming his series “Take the Money and Run”.

Haaning told Danish radio show P1 Morgen last week that the blank canvases were a protest against his meager payment, stressing that he would have to use nearly $ 4,000 of the euros and Danish krone he paid. simply to recreate the works of art.

Oh the irony. The works were to show remuneration as “an instrument to measure the value of work”, explains the museum. “Does the money seem mind-boggling when the full salary is experienced as a physical format, or not at all? “

Haaning insists it wasn’t a cheap move. “The job is that I took their money,” he told Danish radio show P1 Morgen last week. “Breaching a contract is part of the job.”

The museum says Haaning must return the money. “If we don’t get it back, we’ll have to file a complaint against the artist,” said Lasse Andersson, director of the museum. The Guardian.

Again, can the museum invoke a breach of contract after deciding to go ahead and display the blank canvases? Until January 16, 2022, visitors to the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art can see Haaning’s empty frames in full screen in “Work it Out”, an exhibition on the future of the labor market. Doesn’t this indicate that the museum recognizes that Haaning’s last pieces are indeed art?

The exhibition “rethinks the role of art and the art museum in relation to society,” says the museum’s website. “The project focuses on how contemporary art can contribute to a debate on the professional life of tomorrow.

Moreover, the Kunsten Museum cannot claim not to know who it was working with. “Jens Haaning’s work is socio-critical, idea-based, tackling subjects such as capitalism, globalization, democracy, racism and structural inequalities,” reads the artist’s biography on the museum website, which summarizes Haaning’s most recent works of art like “cash and a cool aesthetic”.

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