At art fairs, gallerists have the difficult job of sizing up each person who comes by their booth and trying to answer a simple question: exactly how much money does this person have? But with a new work by the Brooklyn based art collective MSCHF, presented by Perrotin, the guesswork is taken out of the equation. Anyone who wants can approach an ATM that MSCHF set up at the booth and reveal their bank account balance.
ATM Leaderboard (2022) is an ATM that MSCHF acquired from an ATM manufacturing company, but then retrofitted with a screen emblazoned with the word “leaderboard” and a camera. When someone inserts their debit card and plugs in their pin, the camera takes a picture as the account balance flashes on the screen and an animation spins around, declaring the participant well endowed or…not so much. When this ARTnews journalist put her card in, an animation of a toilet stuffed with money popped up with big blue letters telling me, “BYE!”
When not in use, the screen continuously displays account balances and pictures. A younger man wearing a pink t-shirt is number 1, with about $2 million in his account, as the machine scrolls further down, someone with $1.75 comes up.
Watching people approach the work is its own kind of show as they realize what it is and what it does, and have to make the calculation: do they really want people to know how much money they have in their bank account? One VIP present on preview day told a MSCHF member he could run the card on his behalf because he wasn’t comfortable showing his face. What happens most often, according to Kevin Wiesner, a MSCHF artist, is that a group of four or so will approach the machine together, with one person ready and confident to put their card in the machine, but once faced with it, they hesitate, “‘Actually…maybe not,'” Wiesner pantomimes. And perhaps that decision is warranted, because the judgements do come. On First Choice day, Weisner recounts people coming up to watch the screen and say, “Oh, that person should have more money…”
“It’s really interesting, because whether or not people end up putting their card in, everyone has their moment with it,” said Liz Ryan, another MSCHF artist. “You can see them going through this introspective pause where they’re asking themselves if they can go through with it.”
Because this year’s edition of Art Basel Miami Beach is the first time MSCHF has been presented at a fair, the collective didn’t expect so much hesitancy, even anxiety, from this high net-worth audience.
“We figured, people would be really flashy, want to show off, but that hasn’t totally been the case,” said Weisener. “And, it’s been a bit underutilized so far. People haven’t utilized the camera that much, you could hold up a sign or get a big crowd together. I’m waiting for someone to shuffle around some money so they only have, I don’t know, $420 dollars in their account.”
MSCHF is looking forward to seeing how the work is interacted with once the VIP days end and the public can use it. In fact, the public will hopefully be able to interact with the work far past the fair’s close. A Perrotin representative revealed that the work was sold to a local Miami collector for $75,000 and that it’s his intention to display the work in such a way that the public will be able to interact with it. But for now, catch it at the Perrotin booth.