The pieces were meant to be reproductions of two works by artist Jens Haaning, who previously used framed cash to represent the average annual salaries of an Austrian and a Dane — in euros and Danish krone respectively.
But when the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg took delivery of the recreated artworks ahead of the show, gallery staff made a surprising discovery: the frames were empty. Rather than being the handiwork of thieves, the loaned cash was missing thanks to Haaning himself, who says he is keeping the money — in the name of art.
“I have chosen to make a new work for the exhibition, instead of showing the two 14- and 11-year-old works respectively,” Haaning told the museum in an email, the text of which is now displayed next to the empty frames.
“The work is based on/responds to both your exhibition concept and the works that we had originally planned to show.”
The “new” conceptual piece, which Haaning has titled “Take the Money and Run,” is now at the center of a dispute between museum and artist over labor, contractual obligations and the value of work — all fitting themes for the exhibition.