When does an art gallery give away artworks?
Kim Wan

Participatory Exchange
September 9 - October 16, 2010

Just when does an art gallery give away artworks? In a world of climate change and water shortages does free, clean water mean anything to a person living in the developed world? Are paintings more important than water? When does money become art, instead of art accruing fiscal value? These are some of the questions posed in this installation by artist Kim Wan. The installation itself consists of hand-painted $1 bills, photocopies of drawings, a water-cooler with a set of scales and plastic cups. As the viewer enters the space, s/he is offered the choice of taking either a photocopy or a cup of water. The painted dollar bills, however, stay on the wall, occupying the space and remaining indeterminate.


“I am attempting to set up a market economy within the gallery space. In response to the project brief, I have identified differences between the ‘artificial’ value that consumers place on luxury objects such as paintings, and the ‘real’ value placed on natural resources – such as a cup of water. In identifying the choices and economic forces which shape and inform a free-market economy, I wish to enter into a discourse where the artworks become an interactive and quantifiable commodity. My aim is to realise interpretations and debates surrounding the capitalist system whilst provoking discussion and debate Art, money, death, life………….”

–Kim Wan



About the Artist

Kim Wan is a contemporary artist working on an international platform. Recent collaborations include a self-portrait in the National Portrait Gallery (London), exhibiting work alongside Van Gogh, and public art in Bejing. Kim is a process-based artist, investigating materials and disciplines, then developing them into more advanced and/or reconciled works. Trained as a painter at Winchester School of Art, UK, Kim reaches beyond formal approaches to the problem of painting and embraces the new. Being of Chinese-Malay and English descent, this heady mix informs Kim’s work. Not Chinese work, not English work, but both and more: informed by a farreaching global consciousness.