The police and the artwork


When guerrilla art becomes official, we need to look to officials for guerrilla art.

Some 250,000 coloured euro cents, weighing 670 kilos, and worth 2,500 euro formed the minted graffiti of Stefan Sagmeister as part of Experimenta Design 2008 in Amsterdam. According to the artist:

After the piece is completely set up we will leave it alone, on the street. We expect the piece to slowly dissolve as people take coins, play with them, alter the design.

This happened sooner than expected. Not everybody was in on the artist’s idea of slow disintegration, and when a neighbour saw somebody with a large bag sampling the artwork, they called the police. The police tried and failed to contact the owner, and then decided to help out further by, er, interacting with the artwork themselves, cleaning the entire square. Somehow the artist, who got his coins back in what can only be described as body bags for art works, hadn’t seen that one coming.

Volunteers had worked for 8 days to spell out the text “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better” in painted cents.

“Vandalism or street art?” asks Bright about the piece. “Police destroys art work,” headlines Francisco van Jole. “Money the police sure can use,” muses Trendbeheer. Anyway, still plenty photos and even videos exist. Amongst them this rather artful one by Anjens, some rights reserved and titled CSI Amsterdam.

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