100 Money Actions for 14th Street, 2009
Money, text, 14th Street, people, cultural expectations., 30d 0h, Dimensions Variable
100 Money Actions for 14th Street
These 100 Money Actions took place during the Art in Odd Places festival along 14th Street in New York during October of 2009. The brief texts below were typed directly onto paper money which was then inserted into public space accordingly; the same messages were broadcast in real time on Twitter (twitter.com/moneyactions). 100 Money Actions is part of an ongoing series in which I have been using the social dimensions of money as the basis of an interactional and interventionist art practice. I give away money in streets, stores, galleries, talks, dinners, cafés, sometimes anonymously, sometimes in groups or person to person—often to people who give it away in turn. Because money is caged in rules, simply acting outside these rules opens up new ranges of social action and interaction. The money serves as a provocation for thought, conversation, feeling.
In my experience, people are more reluctant to receive than to give; it's awkward for people to be put in that situation, and I like to linger there. From either side of the equation emotions are brought into play—greed, anxiety, stinginess, as well as excitement, generosity, pleasure. People tell me stories of loans gone bad, purses stolen in bars, handouts to people on the street, hunting for nuggets of gold in the Yukon, friends in trouble. For me, the artwork happens inside the other person as they experience the situation—as they think about, give away or spend the money. Though I've often done the work as part of performance festivals, I don't view it as performance. The focus isn't on me. Instead, the experience of rule-breaking, of intervention, is something shared, it's a situation that puts everyone involved into new territory. It's always a bit uneasy.
If performance implies an audience, intervention implicates everyone. In a performance, someone is doing and someone is watching: audience and performer are persons together, joined in a situation of time and place, but voluntarily standing a bit apart. The action occurs through empathy, kinesthesia, mirroring, through seeing yourself in the experience of the other. Performance widens the ordinary gap between people and gets its charge from making connections across that gap.
Intervention operates differently. It disturbs what was ongoing; it breaks it, and maybe breaks it open. With intervention there can never quite be an audience, instead there is something like the interrupter and the interrupted. Both are implicated. The artist steps in (boldly? arrogantly? delicately?) to change the flow of experience, to interfere with expectations. Intervention doesn't ask permission. In a sense it is always deliberately irresponsible because it looks for social codes only to violate them. Codes, protocols, expectations, habits: these are the structures on which intervention acts, these are the compressed meanings whose energy it liberates. Because the purpose of intervention is to interrogate or rearrange social experience and agreement, it is always in some sense political action. Interventions can even be invisible, an altering of thought. Thoughts change meanings; meanings change actions. The social world is revealed as just a pattern of actions, always changing and always waiting to be changed.
In this piece, the displacements are intentionally very small. The intention is to explore a kind of minimalism of intervention and action. The texts are typed onto the money so as to convey to whoever finds the work that the action is deliberate, but the rest is a mystery—no name, no contact information, no explanation. Because I never stay to see what happens, or hear back, for me this particular work has an element of erasure or sacrifice (as well as the exuberance or pleasure of giving). Its rigor is the willingness to not know.
100 Money Actions for 14th Street
$5 in a pair of Levi jeans.
$20 at Gandhi’s feet.
$1 in a bank lobby.
$1 on a stairway.
$5 where Broadway meets 14th Street.
$1 under a wig.
$1 in the branches of a tree.
$10 where you can learn Spanish.
$5 to someone asking for money.
$1 on a pizza delivery bike.
$5 in a fashion magazine.
$5 buried in ice.
$5 between two boxes of cereal.
$5 outside a nail salon.
$1 beneath scaffolding.
$20 dropped as if by accident.
$1 in a metrocard dispenser.
$1 thrown over a fence.
$5 near the corner of University.
$1 on a park bench.
$20 in a tip jar.
$5 where no one will find it.
$1 in a box of new high heels.
$5 outside a private club.
$1 among cleaning supplies.
$1 in the munimeter.
$5 under a city trash can.
$1 next to something I want to buy.
$1 in front of an empty tax office.
$10 in the Salvation Army gate.
$5 on a standpipe.
$20 between the strings of a guitar.
$1 where I’ve spent the most time.
$1 through an open window.
$5 where a lucky cat waves.
$10 slid behind the “x” of “unisex.”
$10 in a bargain bin.
$1 wedged into a security gate.
$5 at the end of the road.
$10 under a windshield wiper.
$1 on top of a dumpster.
$1 left in a copier.
$1 near the candy.
$5 hidden by grasses.
$10 in a stranger’s bag.
$1 in a book about money.
$5 among customs forms at the P.O.
$1 with the long stemmed roses.
$1 where no signs are allowed.
$5 on top of a fire alarm.
$1 propped against a cash register.
$10 on a church pew.
$5 among cantaloupes.
$5 wrapped around a yellow pencil.
$20 without caring where it went.
$1 in the cold remedy aisle.
$1 where smokers gather.
$5 on a farmer’s market table.
$1 inside a designer purse.
$1 near a halal cart.
$5 in a stack of newspapers.
$20 to a musician.
$10 where you can see the water.
$1 in the middle of the street.
$5 covering a small sign.
$5 offered to someone in conversation.
$1 beside a light post.
$5 poking out from a poster.
$5 on a crosstown bus.
$5 down a subway grating.
$1 someplace I’ve never been inside.
$10 outside of the Union Hall.
$1 where the writers hang out.
$1 below a parking garage sign.
$1 taped to a taxi.
$5 under the leaves of a potted plant.
$1 curled in a padlock.
$1 on the highway median.
$5 behind a DVD I’d never rent.
$5 at the corner of Washington.
$10 in with the mail.
$1 beneath a railroad tie.
$1 at a Stuytown driveway.
$1 in front of a new condo.
$5 out with the recycling.
$1 by an empty storefront.
$5 behind a bottle of Rioja.
$1 on the seat of a fancy chair.
$5 in a delivery van.
$1 under a safety cone.
$1 down a manhole cover.
$5 to an animal shelter group.
$10 with the sweaters.
$1 rolled in a round hole.
$1 where there are wildflowers.
$5 under a copy of El Especialito.
$5 on a hot dog stand.
$1 in a pile of split logs.
$10 on a donut counter.
$1 where you can get your fortune told.