June 30th, 2002, 01:11 AM
Burn 1,000,000 British Pounds...
1994: Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, aka The KLF (one of the first bands to bring house-music to football-stadions) burn 1 million British Pounds.
History: Drummond and Cauty (famous from Doctorin' the Tardis, a kick-ass parody of, amongst others, Dr. Who. - Dr. Whoooo retard is...) are rich. They are ****ing rich. They don't even know what to do with their money.
Note: they don't give a **** about copyrights. The song is well-worth the download.
Interesting? Of course... But more interesting are their reasons for doing so:
One thing their K Foundation did with these riches was sponsor an Anti-Turner Prize for worst British artist, awarding it to Rachel Whiteread (who also won the actual Turner Prize in the same year) and giving her £ 40,000 for the honour. Then they set their sights higher, deciding that they had a million quid to burn -- and burn it they did.
With charming (and typical) indecisiveness they considered a number of different options as to how to go about burning a million pounds sterling: in an art gallery, in secret, before the press, behind the backs of the press, etc. etc. Finally they collected the cash from their bank (apparently not the simplest of withdrawals to make), flew up to the island of Jura with Alan Goodrick (a roadie called Gimpo), and, early on August 23rd, 1994, burned £ 1,000,000.00 (more or less -- apparently not quite all of it really went up in flames). Gimpo captured the event on film, and in 1995 and 1996 Drummond and Cauty went on tour with the 63 minute flick, showing it and then discussing the event with the audience.
The poster announcing the screenings asks the right questions about the act of burning the million quid:
Cauty and Drummond themselves are sympathetic characters, in that they quite freely admit that they do not know what they were trying to do, what they have accomplished, and what it means -- and expressing some reservations about blowing so much money. They are also aware of all the ironies that go into such a film-tour -- that it often looks simply like a publicity stunt, that they might wind up making more than they burnt, and similar odd consequences that arise so easily in this pop-culture world.
Was it a crime ?
Was it a burnt offering ?
Was it madness ?
Was it an investment ?
Was it rock 'n' roll ?
Was it an obscenity ?
Was it art ?
Was it a political statement ?
Was it bollocks ?
By simply withdrawing it permanently from circulation the K Foundation calls many of our basic assumptions into question -- a point that can be (and often is) made in theoretical fashion, but does take on a very different feel when someone actually puts it into practise.
And what of the burning of the million quid ? A curious, controversial, perversely fascinating act. People are free to do with their money what they wish. The wilful destruction of cold hard cash is not what people generally do with money, hard-earned or not, but it is not quite as far-fetched an idea as it initially seems. The money could be used to "better" effect, possibly -- feeding the poor and the like. The K Foundation's act, however, does serve as a reminder of what an unusual thing money is, and what an odd role we allow it to play in our lives.
The wide spectrum of reactions to the film and the burning of the money do cover almost all the possible reactions and interpretations. Perhaps the only facet not sufficiently explained (though Alan Moore makes some mention of it) is what it means to withdraw currency from circulation in this manner. While a million quid is a drop in the bucket it does have an effect on national money supply. Getting rid of it is, in effect, a gift to the state, which, in essence, will never have to repay the debt it took to issue that money. So at least the Treasury should be happy.
What to make of it all ? Or should one make anything of it ? Yes, it is an act that leads to questions, and this book leads to more of them. Questions are, we believe, a good thing, and we wholeheartedly endorse the whole shebang. Possibly obscene, possibly upsetting, possibly a hoax it is still an interesting affair, and K Foundation Burn a Million Quid excellently documents it.
Drummond and Cauty challenged the decade with the obscene success of "Doctorin' the Tardis", the inspired Manual (see our review), their KLF successes and K Foundation endeavours. Flighty and constantly undermining their own achievements (mostly by pushing them to excess), they have still provided a valuable mirror for a strange decade. Publicity stunt, social commentary, or art-act their burning of a million quid will go down as one of the defining statements of this brief era.
All taken from http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/drummb/kburn.htm.
'Doctorin' the Tardis' not used by permission. Doctorrrrriiiiiingggg theee retaaaaardsss...hrmmm... sowwry...
June 30th, 2002, 11:59 AM
Mad bastards. I do still think that that money could be put to better use though, than burning!
June 30th, 2002, 04:32 PM
I really don't see why they'd do this, but to all his own (or something?). I _wish_ that I had one British pound, instead of these dollars and pennies in America. I've never even seen a pound. Anyways, odd but nice article, thanks for posting.
June 30th, 2002, 06:32 PM
That's really neat, specially cause it actually helps their gov'mnt's finances, wish more people would just do crazy crap cause they wanna.
July 1st, 2002, 12:52 AM
Re: Burn 1,000,000 British Pounds...
And now for intention-misunderstanding time!
It's hard to burn silver items, isn't it?
With charming (and typical) indecisiveness they considered a number of different options as to how to go about burning a million pounds sterling
[HvC]Terr: L33T Technical Proficiency