In March 2007, American artist Jack Daws put one of his sculptures into circulation at Los Angeles International Airport. His sculpture is no ordinary artwork, but a copper plated, gold penny.
In the summer of 2009, the penny resurfaced, discovered by a Brooklyn graphic designer named Jessica Reed. Ms. Reed was paying for groceries at the C-Town supermarket in Greenpoint, when she noticed the penny.
Back in 2007, Daws hired metalsmiths to make a mold of a penny, cast it in 18-karat gold, and then copper plate it. The “artwork” looks like a real penny, except due to the casting process, it’s slightly smaller, and because of the gold’s weight, it’s almost twice as heavy. Daws had several pennies made in addition to the one placed into circulation: Seattle art dealer, the Greg Kucera Gallery, is selling them. Prices start at $1000.
The golden penny seems a bit tame from an artist whose artworks include small black boxes, inside of which he sealed a variety of hard-core drugs, from crack cocaine and crystal meth to ecstasy, heroin and LSD. Is this the face of contemporary sculpture? Or should the object even be labeled as an artwork? Is the maker guilty of the crime of counterfeiting? Or is the lowly penny above the law? Admittedly there’s a romantic appeal to the idea of a humble penny, secretly valuable, anonymously circulating through pockets and change drawers until it emerges two years later across a broad continent. In fact it sounds almost too good to be true for an artist known for his “wicked sense of play:”
For Daws, life itself is inherently flawed, and those flaws inspire his subversively wicked sense of play. [...] There are no easy answers to Daws’ provocations. He forces you to crawl along the razor’s edge of his consciousness, and he rents space in your head long after you’ve left the building. From seattlepi.com
On finding Jack Daws’ penny via Arts Journal
Counterfeit Penny put in Circulation via the Greg Kucera Gallery
Art: Jack Daws’ counterfeit penny surfaces via the Seattle Post Globe