The wad couple- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: The wad couple
Date: 04 December, 1993
Journal: NME
Author: -
Type of resource: News items
Status: original
No. views: 2290
Description: details of the events of the 23rd of November, including quotes by Peter Chater: "they are basically cowards", and Tony Wilson: "a very peculiar avant garde group whose ideas are as valid as anything the Turner people do."


The wad couple

By - (04 December, 1993, NME)

THE TWO men who bade farewell to the music industry with a mock assassination at the 1992 Brit Awards and the dumping of a dead sheep on the steps of a London hotel introduced themselves to the art world last week by threatening to set fire to #40,000 in cash.

BILL DRUMMOND and JIMMY CAUTY, formerly The KLF, announced the winner of their much-hyped K FOUNDATION award last Tuesday during an ad break in the middle of Channel 4's live coverage of the Turner Prize, the art establishment's premier award for young British artists.

But the sheer cheek of the ad was eclipsed by the bizarre chain of events over the entire evening, culminating in the note-burning threat which was described by one art world figure as "obscene and cowardly".

Both the K Foundation award and the Turner Prize were won by Rachel Whiteread, creator of a controversial concrete casting of a house in a derelict part of London's East End. The Turner netted her #20,000 while Drummond and Cauty put up twice that figure.

While the art world hierarchy gathered at the Tate Gallery awaiting the Turner announcement, the K Foundation invited 25 "witnesses" (art critics, music industry figures) to a field near Woking, ferrying the entire party in a fleet of gold and black limousines.

What greeted the witnesses, decked out in K Foundation orange construction helmets and plastic vests, when they reached the field was a massive artists canvas with #1 millon in #50 notes nailed to it, flanked by two armed security guards. Drummond and Cauty claimed this was "an artistic statement".

Each witness was then given #1,650 in notes to nail onto a wooden plaque, making up the #40,000 prize money which was then transported to the Tate to be handed over to the K Foundation winner. Where the plan backfired slightly was when four witnesses pocketed their cash. Later, another #2,000 was found to be missing, meaning Drummond and Cauty had to shell out an additional total of #8,400 to make up the shortfall.

Whiteread who had refused to allow her name to be used in a series of three TV ads placed by the K Foundation, had been told earlier on Tuesday that the #40,000 would be burned unless she accepted the award. She eventually accepted the money outside the Tate just minutes before the match was due to be struck, saying that she would distribute it equally between ten needy artists.

She later told BBC2's Late Show that the threat to burn the money amounted to blackmail. Peter Chater, director of the Karsten Schubert agency which represents Whiteread's work, told NME: "They are basically cowards. When I spoke to Bill Drummond, he said he wasn't going to be there because he is shy of publicity, which was a joke.

"It was obviously a publicity stunt. What sort of statement they were trying to make I don't know. If it was anything to do with the relationship between art and money it was pretty crass. The KLF made a fortune from a couple of successful singles. Artists aren't in that position. Threatening to set light to #40,000 is pretty obscene."

Former Factory boss Tony Wilson, himself no stranger to the odd publicity oppertunity, was one of the K Foundation witnesses and applauded their actions.

"The K Foundation is a very pecuiliar avant garde group whose ideas are as valid anything the Turner people do," he told NME. "Since when has there been laws governing what constitutes art, or an artistic statement? OK, so a lot of people don't understand what Bill and Jimmy are trying to say, but how many people know exactly what Rachel Whitread's trying to say with her art?

"Tonight has been a lot of fun, It's been a brilliant piece of publicity. I wish I'd thought of it."

Contrary to what Drummond and Cauty told Peter Chater, the "rock biz pranksters" (c. The Guardian) kept an eye on the proceedings outside the Tate from behind the tinted windows of a vehicle parked around the corner, but refused to comment when approached by the NME.

A spokesman for the pair later said they had engineered the stunt to launch themselves as artists. "Their aim is to hold exhibitions next year, and they have created enough publicity to be able to go to the art world and get galleries to listen to them."

They have already issued a preliminary art catalogue, detailing seven different works on a similar "cash nailed to wood" theme. Cauty has already tasted the giddy heights of sucess as an "artist". He painted Athena's top selling "Hobbit" poster in 1971, aged 17.

Doctorin' the artists An evening with The Timetable Lords... 6.30pm: Twenty-five invited witnesses welcolmed by K Foundation master of ceremonies David Ball, at West London's Glouucester Hotel.

7.30: Guests recieve their first instructions and climb into seven limos. Original plans to fly by helicopter to and from the mystery destination is ditched because of freezing conditions.

8.00: Limos stop at Heston service station on the M4. Second pack of instructions announces plans for an exhibition, Money; A Major Body of Cash, which the K Foundation hope to stage next year. Witnesses each handed #1,650 in #50 notes, one of which is to be taken and spent, as proof it is not counterfeit.

9.00: First of K Foundation's three C4 TV ads goes on air; limos arrive at a wood near Woking. K Foundation's exhibit Nailed To The Wall - one million pounds cash mounted in a picture frame - stands in clearing, floodlit and guarded. Circling the site are Drummond and Cauty's two personal armoured troup carriers, driven by the pair.

9.15: Witnesses asked to nail their money to another framed plaque. Four wads of cash are found to be missing. Hot soup and rolls are served.

9.45: Rachel Whiteread is announced as the first K Foundation award winner but refuses the #40,000 prize money. Limos head for the Tate Gallery with witnesses. Drummond and Cauty follow soon after.

10.45: The limos arrive at the Tate. The #33,600 is chained to the railings of the Tate and MC Ball threatens to burn it unless Whiteread accepts the award. She accepts it but announces she will give it away. It later emerges that another #2,000 has gone missing (#8,400 in total).

Pictures: K-F operative in balaclava, hat and bomber jacket nails some cash to the picture frame, full of wads with a single large nail through each, which is chained and padlocked to some railings, with onlookers: "A K Foundation operative with the (nearly) #40,000 outside the Tate Gallery"

K-F operative carrying the picture frame from the limo: "Cash from chaos: limos deliver Whiteread's prize"

Ex-Factory boss Tony Wilson: "Shy (and retired) Mr Wilson"

Second C4 TV ad: "Art terror!: K Foundation's 30-second warning"

Smiling police sergeant and constable taking charge of the picture frame, with onlookers: " "You're nicker, my sons!": You could get a real Constable for that!"

Two suited and bow-tied security guards flanking a 6 by 4 foot wooden frame full of closely packed wads of cash, on a stand in a frosty field: "A million aired: Nailed To The Wall, Drummond and Cauty's art bank"



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