Monday, October 15, 2007
Art and Money
At the Frieze Art Fair this weekend Jake and Dinos Chapman were defacing £10 and £20 notes, and now may face legal action. Not from the Royal Mint, but from another artist who claims they stole the idea from him.
D*Face, a graffiti artist represented by East London's Stolen Space gallery says "I'm annoyed. It is a blatant rip-off. I did a project in 2003 where I got £20 notes and defaced them before putting them back in the system. There were 20 variations of hand drawings and printing techniques in which the monarchy is satirised, with images of the Queen being hung, having her head chopped off." D*Face added that he had also pasted large posters of the Queen's defaced image on a £20 around Whitechapel, including Fournier Street, where the Chapman Brothers have a studio space.
Jake Chapman defended their work, noting "Drawing on money is as original as graffiti and that is as old as the Caves of Lascaux. It's not a great revelation to draw on money. It's not original. What's interesting is that because it's unoriginal, it's authorless. No one can claim ownership of it. It's strange for someone to claim authorship of graffiti which is by its very nature an avoidance of the notion of authorship."
In Canada Mathieu Beausejour has been defacing currency for over a decade. Shredded, stamped and blackened bills play a large part in his practice. My favorite work by the artist uses the serial numbers of the currency as a score for pre-recorded bird calls that refer to the songs of the birds depicted on the backs of the bills.
JSG Boggs is an American artist who creates hand-drawn, one-sided copies of U.S. banknotes. He then spends the "Boggs notes" for their face value and sells any change he gets, the receipt, and sometimes the goods he purchased as his artwork. If the art collector wants the Boggs note, he must track it down himself. Boggs will tell a collector where he spent the note, but he does not sell them directly.
Genpei Akasegawa and the (under-rated) Hi Red Centre group mailed a reproduced 1,000 yen note as an invitation to their 1963 exhibition. The card contained a monochromatic reproduction of the bill the front and the verso had information regarding the exhibit on the back. A year later they were noticed by the police and he was indicted on charges of counterfeit forgery. In August of 1966, the case went to trial and was dubbed the "Thousand-Yen Bill Incident." Part of the artist's defense was to wrap the jury in string. He was found guilty in 1967, appealed twice and twice lost.