BUT IS IT ART?- Library of Mu
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- Library of Mu record:
- Title: BUT IS IT ART?
- Date: February 1994 ?
- Journal: Select
- Author: Miranda Sawyer
- Type of resource: Articles
- Status: text
- No. views: 3211
- Description: Account by Art Award witness - mainly a good analysis of the money art works
BUT IS IT ART?
By Miranda Sawyer (February 1994, ? Select)
The K Foundation: demolishing art or just making an
exhibition of themselves? MIRANDA SAWYER grills
the cognoscenti and innocent bystanders at Bill 'n'
Jimmy's anti-Turner Prize soiree, and asks: how
would you feel if you had to nail £1,600 to a plank?
On November 18, 1993, Pete Wylie got a call from Bill
Drummond. Pete hadn't heard from Select's Coolest Person In Pop for
about two months, but wasn't surprised
when Bill asked if he'd like to come to
London to "witness or experience
something". "My only question was, will
it hurt? I asked Jimmy (Cauty) and he
said, "Yeah, maybe."
Five days later, Wylie found himself
with three other witnesses, 25
jornalists, two armoured cars, a fleet of
limos, various balaclava'd minders and
£1,040,000 in the middle of a freezing
field near Guildford, at 10pm, attending
The 1994 K Foundation Award for worst
artist of the year - later hailed as
"superb", "creepy" and "a fascist, ugly
perversion" by those who were there.
The press mostly ignored the
conceptual 'art' side and concentrated
on the "spoof" award as a reaction to
the Turner Prize (at £40,000 it was twice
the Turner's value); and that the winner
of both, Rachel Whiteread (famed for her
concrete house) only accepted the K
Foundation money because it would
have been burnt otherwise. But with The
KLF there's always more to it than that.
Alongside this award, the K
Foundation were also publicising the
non-release of the single 'K Cera Cera',
sung by the Red Army Choir Of Russia;
and the forthcoming K Foundation art
exhibition "Money, A Major Body Of Cash"
'K Cera Cera' is easiest to explain. It
won't be released until world peace is
established, although a limited number
were available in Israel and the
Palestine, following the recent
rapprochement between Israel and the
PLO. Elsewhere, it has only been played
at mass events, like Reading.
The art side is trickier. The original
plan with the K Foundation Award was to
put £40,000 into the winner's bank
account and to announce this in three
TV adverts shown during Channel 4's
live broadcast of the Turner Prize. 3,000
people responded to press ads which
asked them to choose the worst artist
from the Turner short-list. Rachel
Whiteread won. She agreed to hand over
her bank details, then changed her mind
and also refused the K Foundation
permission to use her name in
advertising. This threw the award off
kilter. The method of announcement had
been chosen for its ironic symmetry. The
cost of the ads announcing Whiteread's
win amounted to £20,000, paid to
Channel 4. Channel 4 sponsored the
Tumer Prize with £20,000. In effect, the
K Foundation would be paying for "both"
awards. The clarity of this idea was
So, the K Foundation decided to
stitch the Award-giving on to the private
view of "Money., A Major Body Of Cash,"
originally the sole reason for the spooky
limo drive on Turner Day. The work to be
viewed was "Nailed To The Wall" -one
million in £50 notes nailed to a pine
wall. The rest of the exhibition (amounts,
from £10 to £100,000, attached to
bricks and wood) is to be shown in 1994.
The total cash displayed will be
£2,111,110 - a scary amount. But
what's shocking is the prices for which
the works are going. "Nailed To The Wall's"
reserve price is £500,000 ... down to a
fiver for the £10 exhibit. This is because
the works have both a cash value and an
'art' value (currently zero) - and they're
priced between the two. In time, the
cash value of one of these exhibits may
decrease, because of inflation ... but its
value as a work of art may increase.
The witnesses barely had time to
contemplate the nuances of "Money". With
the collapse of the advert idea, the K
Foundation decided to use the private
viewers as part of the Award, asking
them each to nail £l,600 (total
£40,000) to a board, which was then
presented to Whiteread - who decided to
donate it to ten needy artists after the K
Foundation threatened to burn the cash
if she wouldn't accept it. The potency of
the event was high-lighted when four
journalists stole the money in their safe-
keeping. All the feelings of power and
powerlessness that money can bring
were fairly summarised with these thefts
- it must have turned out better than the
K Foundation could have hoped if the
examination of cash, art and associated
feelings was their point.
Those who attended are roughly
divided between the worlds of art and
rock'n' roll. Pete Wylie, Tony Wilson, etc
were amused and exhilarated, but the
art world was mostly outraged at the K
Foundation's daring to think that they
Artist Andy Elton - who wrote to the K
Foundation ("To whoever you are, or a
piece of shit") after seeing the ads - was
a witness. He was upset at the idea of
"more" money going to Turner nominees
and thought the K Foundation could do
something more destabilising to the art
world. After the event he was appalled.
All that money just to show that people
and art are affected by it. He doesn't
think it was a point worth making.
Carl Freedman of art magazine
"Freeze" - one of those who took the
money - agrees. He found the event
funny, not offensive (you would too if you
walked off with £1,600!), but thought the
point had been made before.
Interestingly, no one really minded
when the K Foundation spent their
money on something concrete like
adverts. People got upset when cash
was flaunted for the sake of an idea.
The question within the art world is
whether the K Foundation's idea was
worth spending so much on. And the
agreed answer seems to be no. But as
populist work appealing to those outside
the art cloister it worked very well.
"As a PR exercise it was a Picasso,"
says "The Guardian's " Lawrence Donegan.
He's right. The K Foundation brought art,
or the question of its worth, to the
masses in a way that hasn't been done
for some time.
Finally, the K Foundation had a run in
with the Bank Of England. When they
took back the million from "Nailed To The
Wall", all the notes had holes in them,
and were classed as unusable and
destroyed. What a waste of money, eh?
There are 1 comments for this record
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Posted by Guest on 2006-09-29 05:06:45
It doesn't sound like Sawyer was a witness, but that she had a chat with Pete Wylie who *was*? kingboyk