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Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid

A film by The K Foundation. It… basically is what it sounds like it is. Technically a documentary, I suppose.

Following a prank by The K Foundation, where they offered a million quid to the worst UK artist (which, of course, just happened to coincide with the winner of the Turner Prize that year), they had their own art exhibit, where they nailed one million pounds of their own money to a board and toured it around, with the intent on lighting it on fire in the middle of London. They were talked out of this (on grounds that it'd cause a riot), so after much deliberation, they decided to go to the small island of Jura and do the burning there. Their friend Gimpo brought along a video camera, and taped the entire burning. Originally they were going to destroy the tapes as well, leaving it to be in the realm of mystery whether or not the burning had actually happened. Gimpo, however, kept a copy of the tape, thinking that there should be SOME evidence of this having taken place, and eventually Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty agreed.

About a year later, they toured the film around and held Q&A sessions after it – though, opposite of usual Q&As, they asked the Qs, while the audience provided the As. Later, they compiled a book from stills of the film, and edited transcripts of the Q&A sessions. The book was called simply K Foundation Burn A Million Quid.

Take note: This film does NOT feature anything about the whys or wherefores leading up to the burning. In fact, it doesn't even feature any sound – it's silent. It is ONLY the burning of the money, nothing more. (By all accounts, the film is actually rather boring – the event itself is interesting, but the film isn't. But it's not really intended to be, either.)

It's really fun talking about this – it gets people really riled up. One time I did a post after I'd just read the book – which is excellent, by the way – and most of my friends agreed that it was really cool, but there were one or two folks who couldn't fathom this, and got really, really angry about this, asking why they wasted the money, why they didn't buy anything with it, why they didn't give it to the poor. The phrase "Some people shouldn't be allowed to have so much money" came up. It's really interesting – especially since I'd argue they DID buy something with it – an incredibly expensive experience. (And, I suppose, a film.) And, as for the charity thing – it's not like The K Foundation sat down and said "Well, we can give this money to OXFAM or we can light it on fire…" – they never saw the charity thing as an option. Anyway, I'd say that this is way cooler than just buying a bunch of stuff – who would have cared if they'd just bought some big screen TVs? That wouldn't have provoked so much discussion. Anyway, it's not like it would have mattered too much – upon learning that the money had been destroyed for certain (of course, there were theories that the burned money was fake and that the real million dollars was sitting safely in their bank accounts… though The K Foundation could produce bank receipts), the UK government would just print up an extra million quid, like they always do to replace money that's been destroyed – everything'd work itself out in the end, anyway, so it's a purely symbolic act. Well, except that they wouldn't get the million back!

One of the interesting things from the book – more than one person seemed to be offended because it was "their" money, mainly that since the million came from record royalties, that they, KLF fans, had some sort of small stake in that, and had they known that the money was going to be burned, they wouldn't have bought the records… which strikes me as kind of odd, considering that they got the record – Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty didn't burn that up, just the money, which the record-buyers couldn't do anything with anyway, since it'd already left their possession in exchange for a product.

Still, though – the book is a must have. The film… probably not so much, but it's awesome that it exists.