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: 2922
- 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
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
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
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
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
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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