Money To Burn- Library of Mu
Money To Burn
By John Dower (1996-03-01, Thee Database)
SOME THOUGHT they'd never be seen in public again, but The K Foundation reared their head for one day only in November last year. John Dower found them and persuaded them to tell the true story behind the burning of One Million Pounds.
I was dubious about meeting The K Foundation. The KLF had produced some of the best ever dance music, whereas the K had been variously described as art world provocateurs, cultural terrorists and anarcho-situationists.
Would the K Foundation be aggressive, cyber-punk or selfindulgent pop stars? As with their work, the K Foundation defied expectations. Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty are two perfect gentlemen - polite, self-effacing and remarkably lacking in pretension considering they had been successful chart-toppers and had burnt one million pounds of their own money. Nor did they appear mad.
Cauty, often laconic to the point of vagueness, would not look out of place up a tree at Twyford Down or Newbury. Responsible for drawing Athena's biggest ever selling poster (The Hobbit), there is not whiff of revolutionary zeal about him. Bill Drummond looks like a member of the Scottish landed gentry with NHS spectacles. Both have qualities not usually associated with those generally supposed revolutionary - intelligence and a sense of humour.
The K Foundation had come to Glasgow on the first day of a tour of their film of the burning of a million quid. The burning had taken place the previous year, after which, along with their sporadic advertising campaigns in the national press, Messers Drummond and Cauty disappeared. In their absence, rumours began to circulate. Stewart Home believed he had been abducted outside a London tube station by the K, made to eat ice-cream and listen to Charles Manson recordings. Others whispered of plots to overthrow the establishment - the burning had been the first attempt to de-stabilise the monarchy. Many hoped for another album.
Instead they appeared on Jura last August intending to face the islanders' questions over the bizarre burning. The return to Jura gave them the idea of a tour, starting in Glasgow and finishing a month later in London. Viewings were planned in night-clubs, motorway service stations, bookmakers and even prisons in an effort to see what Joe Public thought of the burning of a million pounds. Drummond and Cauty themselves do not provide any answers to the obvious question: “Why did you do it?” Lack of a neat solution has lead to abuse on the part of some. The Guardian, previewing the Omnibus documentary about the burning, sneered at "their idiotic guilt-wracked justifications" and called them "useless art morons".
Drummond & Cauty were anything but moronic on the first, and subsequently only, day of their national tour. They hinted at a method in the madness.
November 3rd 1995, 6.00pm. A mews cottage tucked away in a lane high above Glasgow's Kehingrove park. In what should be a bedroom is squeezed an 8-track mixing desk, turncables, CD players, piles of records, microphones and a DAT player. On the roof is a transmitter broadcasting a signal to roughly 30 square miles of the city. This is not the BBC, but a Restricted Service Licence station called Sub City Radio, on air for 24 hours for one month and then destined to disappear into the white noise.
On air, Bill and Jimmy patiently and politely answered every question put to them. Calls to the station were divided as to the merit of burning the money. One caller had been an avid KLF fan and could not find any indication on their bestselling Chill Out album that they were going to burn one million pounds.
Previously that day they had shown the film to the resident artists at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts and to a bunch of workmen on their lunch break. There was initial disbelief: “They've burnt a millbn quid and I've just carried thirty sheets of Gyproc for a fiver!” exclaimed 25-year old Monty. Half an hour of debate ensued. The conclusion? Much respect for the K.
Without warning, the tour was cut short after the first day. Foundation members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty headed north in their articulated lorry, driven by Gimpo, a Mancunian Falklands veteran, who was film maker and tour manager for the K. Accompanying them was a third party who would sign a contract with Drummond and Cauty pledging them not to speak about their bizarre burning for the next 23 years. All rights to film were signed over to Gimpo. The K Foundation would then be defunct. The legal document was drawn up on a 'Hallmarks' congratulations card, complete with kitsch teddy bears and champagne bottles. Drummond and Cauty then proposed to attach the contract to the van and push it over CapeWrath.
Gimpo was having none of it. He had fallen in love with the tour bus and took off, leaving the others stranded in the Highlands. After aimlessly wandering the night, they managed to hire a Nissan Bluebird onto which was painted the contract. Both then disappeared into the Atlantic.
Why then cancel a tour that they firmly believed in? It is rumoured that Drummond and Cauty felt that the tour could only end up being indulgent. Everything that could be said had been said on the first day and after that the project would suffer the law of diminishing returns. The attendant celebrity of the tour would scupper any chances it had of succeeding as they intended.
Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty bring a splash of colour to a rather drab and grey decade. They manage to be subversive, while still remaining irreverent... giving the proverbial two fingers to all those who take themselves too seriously. Don't expect that to be the end. Watch the skies and check national press for the forthcoming adverts.
Thee Data Base contributor John Dower & co-hort Dave Greer host "Everything You Know Is Wrong" on Glasgow's Sub City Radio. The following is the full interview with The K Foundation as it was broadcast.
John Dower: So, why did you burn it? A lot of people don 't know the background, they'll think you were the KLF so you took a million quid and thought 'oh we'll burn it for a laugh, it’ll be a bit of a giggle and that's it'. Is that why you did it?
Jimmy Cauty: It wasn't really a giggle. We were deadly serious about it.
J: Was this a spur of the moment thing? Did you wake up one morning and think "oh we've got a million quid let's burn it'?
JC: It's something we've always wanted to do.
Bill Drummond: Anybody that has followed what we have done as The K Foundation closely would see that that could be a logical conclusion.
J: Is this a statement? Is this a critique of capitalist society?
BD: I don't think so, but some people read it as that. If they do that's fine.
J: How do you read it?
JC: We're still confused
J: You're hoping this tour of Bntain with the film will bring you the answers?
JC: Ir might not give us the answers but we're getting something out of it. We come away from each thing thinking 'that was good'.
BD: We're doing this because we've also learned that other people get stuff out of it. and its almost like...
JC: We're obliged to show it.
BD: We've got a bit of a responsibility here.
JC: If you've got an art work that you've created, you do for some reason want to share it with people. I don't know why.
J: You see this as a piece of art? You seem to suggest that.
JC: [laughs] I did say that but I take it back.
Dave: I've read a quote firom you Bill...
BD: You're not holding us to quotes are you?
D: Well someone asked you why you did it and you said 'because I had to. I just do what I have to do'. Why did you hove to do that?
BD: That seemed the right answer to give at the time.
JC: There's about 400 different reasons but we're trying to whittle it down to maybe a handful of really good reasons.
J: Do you think money is the root of all evil?
JC: No. We've got nothing against money,
J: What was the background with this money? Was this the money that was nailed to the wall?
BD: When we decided to have a thing called the K Foundation, it was the money that was going to be, or was, "the K Foundaion". That money was the foundation.
J: When you set up the foundation, wasn't it an art foundation for struggling artists to apply for money - and then you'd help them out?
JC: That was the original idea but luckily we managed to get out of that. We decided not to do that.
BD: We realised that struggling artists are meant to struggle, that's the whole point.
J: And they don't deserve any money?
JC: Not from us, not our money.
D: When you tried to give the money to Rachel Whiteread when she won the Turner Prize in 1994, she tried to refuse the money didn't she? You offered her £40,000 and she turned round and said she didn't want it.
BD: We weren't giving it to her because she was a struggling artist. We gave it to her because people had voted her as the worst artist in the country that year. She had originally given us the details of her bank account so that it could go straight in there if she won. As it turned out, she won but a couple of days before the announcement she decided not to accept the money.
J: Did you not like her exhibit, "House'?
BD: It was nothing to do with us. That's what people vored for.
JC: We’ve got nothing against her or her work
D: What happened after she refiused?
BD: We phoned her up and said, "Look You have won and if you don't accept it we're going to burn it."
J: Is that where the idea started? If you could say to someone "We're going to burn forty grand' why not go all the way and burn a million?
BD: There's a man in this room who thinks it's all his fault and he's called Gimpo. It was his job to either give her the money or burn it. He thinks if he'd actually got it burnt that night, we wouldn't have needed to burn a million pounds. I'd never really thought that through, but then about a month ago Gimpo told us this, that he'd been harbouring this guilt, that it was his fault.
Gimpo: I should have burnt it. I had petrol all over the £40,000, but we'd waited until two minutes past eleven. We were due to wait until eleven o'clock until she came out, but we were told to wait another two minutes and I was well pissed off. I had these matches ready to burn it with all these journalists around me. But then she sent one of her people out and he said "Oh, the money's not real." So I ripped this a wad of £50s off and gave it to him. He looked at it, ran in and then Rachel Whiteread came running out. She just grabbed the money and dragged it over the fence. I was well pissed off because I couldn't burn it.
D: How did you actually go about burning the million? A lot of people might have heard the story, but like a lot of things you do it's shrouded in folklore and mystery.
JC: Well, I had a box of matches...
D: I know you took a journalist called Jim Reid with you, and you took Gimpo with you.
BD: It wasn't like "Let's take this journalist with us"... We were going to do this exhibition called "Money: A Major Body Of Cash" which we were going to exhibit nailed to a wall and it was a million pounds, a hundred bundles of ten thousand pounds, each one numbered. For various reasons we knocked that on the head. Jim Reid had written this 15,000 word catalogue for this exhibition, so when it evolved into us going to burn the money, we said to him "Sorry we're not using your catalogue, but we're going to do something else and you can witness it. And you can do what you like with that information." He decided to sell his story to The Observer. He didn't know where he was going. He didn't know what was going to happen. And Gimpo didn't know what was going to happen at all.
J: You didn't just go to bank and take the money out of a cash machine...
BD: We'd organised to get the money. In the morning we went and got two suitcases, drove down to this money warehouse in South Croydon. It had come from a bullion centre and a security company were holding it. We then drove to a little airstrip where we'd hired a plane. They didn't know what we had on board. Jimmy and I knew where we going and the pilot knew, but Gimpo didn't know and Jim Reid didn't know. We flew to Islay and then we went from Islay across to Jura and booked in. We then did what we did.
J: A lot of people are going to think "This is easy". You're former pop stars wadded up to the hilt. Was this your last million or have you got loads more stashed in the bank? Surely that puts some bearing on the burning? If you've got five million and you burn a million, it's no great loss you've still got some cash.
JC: There would have been no point in us burning it if we had five. It's not a sacrifice, we weren't sacrificing everything. We've both got a house and we both still get PRS cheques from our back catalogue.
J: Didn't you delete your back catalogue?
JC: Yes, but you can still buy it in Japan and Germany...
BD: We weren't doing it to say "Look how heroic we are, we burnt all our money". We burnt a million because a million is the symbolic figure.
J: How did you feel after burning it? Liberated? Exhilarated? Or just fairly nonplused?
JC: I was fairly nonplused really. We'd known we were going to do it for about six weeks before hand and during that time you go through all those "things" you go through when you know you're going to burn a million quid.
J: I don't know that feeling...
JC: It's quite intense. By the time you get to it, you've done it all. You're burnt out. You just have to go ahead and do it.
(Jack Maclean from ‘The Herald’ enters the studio]
J: Jack, what do you think of someone burning a million quid?
Jack McLean: Actually, I'm bloody angry if you want to know the truth. What was the point of this gesture? You could have burnt counterfeit money. Your best gesture of all would have been to give the money away to a worthwhile charity. How can you answer this... Over twenty-five years ago, when I was at Edinburgh College of Art, and I was the National Union of Students Vice-President, I managed to negotiate with the Government an extra 25 quid for every arts student to buy extra material, because it was very, very expensive. That was twenty-five years ago and they're getting even less money now. And you spent a million pounds for the sake of art?
JC: Well, for a start we're not saying that it's necessarily art. We're not really sure what it is. We know we've done something, but we don't know what category it falls under. Secondly, we're not a charity, we're not about giving money away to people, that's not why we do what we do.
J: Surely, Jack it's their money - they earned it. If they want to burn it who are you to say it's wrong?
JM: I 'm going to say right off that I find that there are a number of young artists who find it very difficult to the extent that they end up in working in various jobs and they don't return to their art. Now that million pounds could have helped them produce art. There are many artists out there who find it difficult to make ends meet, especially the young ones straight out of art college. they end up doing things like teaching which I did fourteen years. With that million pounds. I wouldn't have to be teaching for fourteen years and take flak off all the wee bastards...
BD: It's the choice you make. If you're going to be an artist, you know that's the score. You're not in art to be making money. You made the decision to be a teacher and that means you sold out. If you'd wanted to be an artist, you would have carried on. It was in you.
JM: You're saying we shouldn't teach art?
BD: I'm not saying that. You were saying you had to become a teacher because you couldn't carry on being an artist.
JM: No, a lot of young artists can't manage and they have to do something else. Today, they don't do much teaching at all because the jobs aren't there. What they do is they work for £1 .50 an hour in hamburger joints. These are poor kids who are struggling and don't have any money for materials. How are they going to be artists? In the meantime you decide on a gesture of burning a million pounds.
JC: Those poor artists could actually get something quite good out of us doing that. They could get a positive thing out of seeing us just burn that money because if they're just thinking "Oh God. I can't do my art because I haven't got any money", they're mistaken I think.
JM: What do you do with a musician whose instrument is stolen or can't work any more and they need another instrument? He doesn't have the money so he can't play, so he's not a musician anymore, is he?
JC: No. He's not. That's one of the laws of the universe isn't it. It's not our fault.
BD: It's not our job to give out money. What we did by burning it is... and I'm not saying it's art... we created something there. That thing there now exists. The fact that that million pounds exists in your mind - maybe you'll walk out of the studio and forget about it - but it exists there. Maybe it'll gnaw away at you, it might make you giggle some times, you might see other things in it. It evolves in peoples' minds in different ways.
JM: And the students that are finding it difficult to keep on going. They're going to be angry as well aren't they?
BD: But you can get through that anger.
JM: But how do you get through that anger, when you could have given the money to a wee village in India where they're dying?
JC: There's plenty of organisations who are set up to give money to other people. It's not our function to give our money away. It's our function to do with it something that we find interesting.
JM: In a weird way you're coming across as the other side of the coin that characterises the greed that is the National Lottery. It's a lack of respect for other people's labour.
D: But do you think by what the K Foundation have done, they have exposed the anomalies in market capitalism. They've certainly drawn your attention to the anomalies. Has that served a function in itself?
JM: What you could have done to expose the nature of capitalist greed is written to the newspapers, or even written for them, as I indeed do.
BD: We're not journalists. You're a journalist and you're a blues harp player. Obviously we respect that, that's what you do. We don't do those things. We can't communicate in those ways.
JM: Well where did the money come from?
BD: We made the money out of pop records.
JM: And who made more money out of pop records than you?
BD: Loads of people.
JM: And how many people paid into the profits you made and the record business made?
J: When you showed the film to the builders this morning, one of them said "I've bought all your albums." So you are in effect burning the money people have given for your pop music.
D: Do you not feel you 've let your body of fans down by what you did?
JC: I think a lot of them will be really horrified, yes.
BD: I think we let them up.
JM: Out of all the places you could have chosen to burn a million pounds, you had to do it on Jura. The Isle of Jura has distilleries closing down all over the place. There has been 20,000 jobs lost in the whisky industry and to do it there? If you're going to burn a million pounds, can you not do it somewhere like inside Buckingham Palace?
JC: Just because some people are less well off than other people, doesn't mean that they shouldn't be exposed to what we do.
D: What was the reaction of the people of Jura. Why did you show the film to them before you showed it to anyone else.
J: Were you guilty?
BD: We just thought it was the right thing to do. Some people were very angry about it. Other people were into it. Other people were saying it had split the island. It churned up a lot of things.
D: Has the reaction you've received made you think that perhaps you shouldn't have done it?
J: No regrets?
BD: No. As Jimmy said, he went through it all before he burnt it. After we made the decision, I was Mr. Tunnel Vision about it and nothing else could get in. It was only afterwards that I went through the big...
J: Depression? Did you not wake up and think "Oh God!"
BD: Yes that would happen about seven days a week. [laughs] That was a bit of a joke. Was that a joke?
J: Bill you've got two kids who are aged eleven and eight You haven't told them, have you?
BD: No. It's hard to tell your children that I went out into the garden and chopped down the money tree.
J: How would you feel if your two kids opened up their piggy banks and burnt or chucked all their money away? Would you be annoyed as a father?
BD: When I was a kid I remember coming home and I had this pocket money. I had about six pence left and I threw it in the side of the road. I came home and I thought "I feel good about this." My dad was a minister and he was so angry.
JM: A Church of Scotland Minister? It's Calvinist guilt here all over again!
BD: [laughs] No Calvinist guilt here. I'm just adding a bit of colour...
JM: All is explained!
BD: Not at all!! Anyway, I had to go back and find the money and it had to go in the missionary box.
J: You don't feel you had to go back to the missionary box after you burnt a million quid?
BD: My dad's into this. He likes it. He thinks it's good.
JM: I find this utterly inexplicable. You seem like good lads .
D: The K Foundation have said that they’re trying to change art history. You don't think you'll end being swallowed up into the establishment that you're trying to critque?
JC: No, I don't think we'd be accepted. It's like they don't want to play and we're okay about that really.
D: But today's art establishment is quite loose. People like Damien Hirst are seen as an rebels, but they're quite quickly brought into the fold.
BD: They're playing the game. It's a straightforward game they're playing. And we do have a criticism and it's that they're not trying hard enough. That's our big thing - they're just all playing the game and what they're doing is just not good enough.
D: Do you see yourself as part of the new renaissance in London - the relationship between the art world and the pop music industry? Damien Hirst and Blur for example.
J: Maybe you should turn the film into a pop video.
JC: That's a novel idea.
BD: Who should do the music for it then?
J: Maybe the KLF?
JC: No, we're not interested any more.
[Stewart Cruikshank from the BBC enters the studio]
Stewart Cruikshank: I'm here to present Bill & Jim with a top secret document at the request of Matthew Bannister from Radio One.
BD: Are we allowed to read this out on air?
SC: No. it's got to remain under wraps.
J: You're messing with The K Foundation here.
JC: Let's have it.
BD: Is it a cheque? [opens the package] Matthew Bannister says "On April 1st 1996, I want to give the KLF [laughs] a whole hour on Radio One to do what they want. This, Bill and Jimmy, is a true proposal."
D: What are they saying?
JC: They want to give a band that doesn't exist anymore an hour of Radio One time. I think it's a bit strange. We've been given this idea before and we said, yes we'll do it... we'll have an hour of silence. They just said "No, sorry..." That still stands.
BD: Yes. we're up for a silence.
D: Will the controller let it happen?
SC: He might well do. Anything's possible on Radio One in this day and age.
BD: [opens rest of package] Hang on, there's more here! [reading] "By the way, the programme is to be called 'The KLF: What The Fuck Is Going On!'. It's to last sixty minutes, scheduling Sunday documentary. Question: what do ice cream vans, sheep, the Timelords, Abba, flying Vs, the Red Army Choir, Tammy Wynette and the Turner Prize have in common? Answer: "
JC: [still reading] "These are only a few images and metaphors used by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Together as The KLF, they have confused and thrilled their fans, the media, their family and friends, with their music. The hype and the media scams." Hmmmm.
BD: [reading] "What we propose, and the choice of April Fools Day is significant, is a journey to explain through actuality, samples and original music together with creative and production input from Cauty and Drummond, what the fuck was going on? Who are The KLF ? Why do they consistently buck the system and find success? Where are they heading? And what guise will they use next? The effect on the listener we hope..." [stops reading] They're not actually saying we can do what we want... They're saying they want to make a documentary about us!
J: Maybe you could answer all the questions in two minutes and then be silent for a hour?
JC: No, we don't want to compromise.
SC There's room for discussion on this.
JC: I think we'll have to turn you down on that one.
J: Getting back to what you said before, you said it wasn't your job to give away money. What is your job then? Do you have one?
BD: Yes. It's to do what we're doing.
J. Which is what?
BD: Well, we're showing the film so that's what our job is at the moment.
JC: The job develops and changes all the time.
D: You started off a long time ago in Liverpool music promotion and Bill, you were involved with Echo and the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes. You've flirted with quite a number of things thus far, do you feel satisfied with your career?
BD: We've both mainlined all our life. We've never flirted. I don't know how to flirt. On a surface level it looks like you're moving around. Underneath, you're surging ahead and banging away at that same seam.
D: Have you gleamed anything from that seam?
BD: You're always just against the bit you're at, at that moment. That's the bit you're hammering at.
D: Do you feel content
JC: No. Does anybody? I'm not happy with anything we've ever done.
J: Is that why you keep burning it?
BD: We don't keep burning it!
JC: We've only ever burnt one thing, really.
J: I heard another rumour that when you sampled Abba's "Dancing Queen' they were going to take you to court, so you drove over to Sweden, you didn 't actually get in touch with Abba, but then you burnt a load of Abba records. Is that true?
BD & JC: Yes !
J: So you have burnt more than just a million pounds!
JC: Okay, so we have burnt a few other things as well.
BD: People like fires, don't they! Ever since you were a kid, you've liked having a fire.
JC: Yes, the reason why we were doing it was that we were trying to set a good example to young people. That's why we burnt the money. That's today's excuse.
(Jonathan Monk, an "artist' arrives]
D: Jonathan, do the K Foundation say anything to you about art?
M: No, not especially. I like the way you sell money for less than it is. Can I buy a tenner off you for a pound?
JC: You could have done in the old days. We've moved on from there now.
JM: What are you doing now?
BD: We burnt the money a year ago. It took us a long time to come to terms with the fact that we burnt it. And we didn't know we had this film up until a couple of months ago, on seeing that we decided to show it other people. Once we'd showed it to the people on Jura, we thought we should be showing this to a lot of different people all over the place.
D: Jonathan, do you and your art chums in the CCA have any degree of respect for what the K Foundation have been doing? Has it rocked their cultural world?
JM: No. Not really. [pauses] We're kind of interested in other things.
BD: You've got to be wittier than this. You've got to be sharper.
JC: We really want to engage with other artists, but nobody seems prepared to engage with us.
JM: But are you definitely artists?
JC: Not necessarily, but we would like to have some dialogue with somebody or something. We don't seem to be getting that.
J: Jonathan, as an artist did you think that that nailing the money to a piece of wood and exhibiting it as an. Was that a piece of art for you?
JM: I don't know. What did you do with it afterwards?
BD: We had to take it apart and put it back in the bank.
JM: Can you just get a million pounds out like that?
BD: No. We had a million quid in the bank account and we thought we could go along and just cash a cheque. But you just own the concept of the money, you don't actually own the pieces of paper and the coins. and The Bank Of England weren't having it.
JM: Didn't you get done for putting nails through it?
BD: Yes we did. They had to burn that lot when it went back to the Bank of England.
JM: So they were copying you?
BD: No we hadn't done it yet. We were copying them! We had to them pay £500 to them so they could print up another million.
JM: I applied for Rachel Whiteread's money. I wanted to build a wooden model of "House" and burn that on Jura.
BD: That's excellent!
D: Will the K Foundation provide Jonathan with the funds to do that project?
JC: We haven't got any money! You don't burn a million quid and then start giving money out afterwards.
BD: What we're saying is he should go and do it.
JM: I can't afford it.
JC: That's bollocks.
BD: You can hitch up to Jura. There's wood up there. There's trees. We had a bonfire up there - the Forestry Commission provided all this wood and they would do the same for you.
D: There you go Jonathan. The K Foundation have done something for your life.
BD: And if you don't do it, it's because you're lazy and you're just not trying hard enough.
JC: It's not our fault. Don't put the responsibility on to us because we can’t give you any money.
D: Before the film was seen, when it was still a mythical anecdote, it was quite intriguing. But now you're showing the film everywhere, is it not a case of the law of diminishing returns? The more you show it, the less interesting it becomes?
JC: Yes, I think that's probably true, but we're still going to go ahead and do it anyway.
JM: It's also publicity though. In art terrorism you're supposed to remain unknown.
BD: We're not art terrorists.
JM: What are you?
BD: I don't know, but we're not art terrorists.
J: Do you think you ever will find out what you are?
BD: Other people decide what you are, don't they?
D: Surely you should maintain an idea of who you are, otherwise you don't have an identity.
BD: I'm Bill Drummond and he's Jimmy Cauty.
[Andrew Nairn, Visual Arts Ofifcer for the Scottish Arts Counal arrives]
D: As a member of the Scottish arts establishment, do you feel battered and bruised by the assaults the K Foundation have made?
AN: I don't feel battered at all. I think the art world has just yawned actually. They felt there was no context. I think that says something about the art world. If you'd burnt the million pounds in an art gallery, you'd have got a lot more attention from the art world than burning it somewhere else.
BD: He's right. If it had been burnt in a gallery. then people would have seen it as art, then they know what they're dealing with.
JC: We did know that, we had thought about doing it in an art context like that, but we decided not to.
AN: There have been a lot of important iconic gestures in the history of art since the war and in theory this could be added to them. Somehow, it doesn't feel like it's going to happen. The people who did it are seen as interesting people in the pop world, not the art world. So it comes down to categorisations.
BD: We're not begging to be part of the art world.
JC: We don't really want to be let in, in the first place. We're not bothered.
D: Inevitably, this act will go down in art history somewhere.
JC: I think we fulfill a much better function outside of the whole system of the arts.
BD: We're not saying Andrew is wrong, either. Everything he has said is totally right.
AN: Did you have something against Rachel Whiteread's work? I saw her last week and I think she's a really good artist.
BD: Of course she is.
JC: If she's going enter into the spirit of being an artist, going in for competitions, she has to accept that it's not all...
AN: I think people liked all your adverts at the beginning of the whole thing. But, somehow it left a nasty taste in peoples' mouths at the time of the Turner Prize.
BD: Partly because she was a woman, there was a sexist element there. They thought "Poor little Rachel Whiteread". It wasn't us. We hadn't decided. It was people voting that had decided - that's why she won. Initially the votes were coming in for the geezer that did the rice thing, the Cambodian guy, because that was getting the coverage in the broadsheets, so that's what people were reacting to. But once the "House" thing came out, everybody was voting her as the worst. That was the reason why she got it.
AN: I am interested in the public reception to contemporary art. If you go into the Tate, there's nothing about the famous bricks from Carl Andre from 1976. If you go and look for bricks in the catalogue of the Tate, you would think it might say something about the biggest controversy ever, since the war, in Britain about these bricks on the ground. There's nothing said about it. And yet the understanding of the artwork for most people is within that controversy that surrounded it. And that's similar to what you did. There will always be an association and you grabbed on to that. That said, I think "House" is one of the great artworks of the 90s.
JC: Fair enough, yes. We were into it too.
D: But the public disagreed.
AN: I don't believe that. I take issue with that.
D: The K Foundation did a poll...
JC: Yes, but the people who voted had never studied art.
BD: They don't know.
D: What's that got to do with it? It doesn't matter what the middle classes think about art, it's what the public thinks...
BD: No. The public don't know about art.
JC: They're not interested in it.
D: But it's their money being spent by the SAC on these projects.
JC: There's nothing wrong with that.
J: If the public don't know about art, why did you put out a poll saying "People vote for the worst art"?
JC: It was a mistake.
BD: No. it wasn't a mistake.
JC: I thought it was [laughs].
BD: Contemporary art - the whole purpose of its being is to be at the forefront, so the public ain't going to understand that. Why should they? If the public understood it, it wouldn't be working. The public only ever react to contemporary art when it is like the Tate bricks. They can only understand it on some kind of ludicrous level. They can only ever get into it on the shock horror thing. They can never actually really understand it.
J: Was your piece intended to shock and horror?
JC: We didn't want it to be shocking because the shocking-ness would spoil it.
AN: Why did you burn it as opposed to sinking it in the North Sea? Did you go through the environmental issue?
BD: Burning is steeped in all sorts of symbolism, going all the way back. When we were burning it, we thought "any second now, God's going to say - it's okay boys, there's a ram out there in the bush."
D: You thought it was a religious experience then? A sacrificial act? With spiritual connotations?
BD: God didn't show up.
There are 5 comments for this record
You can leave a comment below.
Posted by Guest on 2005-12-19 07:11:44
It is clear those individual who burnt a million pounds are sick and selfish individuals, but not as sick and twisted as Jack Mclean of the Glasgow Herald Newspaper. At least they only burnt money, whereas Mclean is personally responsible for the death of a 16-year-old boy. McLean has no moral standing or ethics as journalist or an artist. He is a child murderer who takes great pride in being part of the Glasgow Razor Gang that terrorist innocent members of the public in the 60 and early 70. Everything about him is evil, but then this Country makes celebrities out of child murderers and Mclean is only too happy to make money out of his evil deeds.
Posted by Guest on 2006-07-01 03:08:09
Subcity Radio still broadcasting FM RSL and online: http://www.subcity.org
Posted by Guest on 2008-01-29 05:52:43
"It is clear those individual who burnt a million pounds are sick and selfish individuals.."
interesting. Do you think that every rich millionaire on earth is sick and selfish? Because I don't see any difference in burning a million pounds in cash or buying your 3rd $8 million house were you only stay 5 weeks a year (Tom Cruise) or your 3rd Bentley (when you have already 6 other luxury cars, (random mtv Rapper) or your 400th pair of designer shoes you only wear 1 evening (any female celeb)
Still those people are heroes and all the poor workers that make $5/ hour pay to see their movies, listen to their songs, watch their games or read about them in trash magazines
KLF burned a million, but they made people think. You could argue that a few rich bastards think twice about their own luxury and decide to give more to charity, so that in the end KLF's 1 million became MORE
Posted by Guest on 2008-01-29 14:42:23
i no some day people will clock on klf are way before ther time and the public go on to show this
Posted by Guest on 2012-05-01 11:02:45
Fair Play to them. It;s their money and i feel that anyone who states they should have given it to some charity are more selfish than them.
If i earnt a million and wanted to burn it for whatever reason then i would, i mean how many so called rock stars have spent more than this on drugs over the years...and to be honest who cares? i dont let them burn it all.