“How and why was your attention drawn to the object?”
Coroner, Inner North Borough of London to the Finder
On the 12th of July 2007, four residents of Hackney came forward with the discovery of eighty gold American coins whilst digging up their garden for a pond ‘to attract wildlife’. Archeologists, ‘normally dealing with ancient stuff’, believed that someone from our time may be able to reveal their provenance, given that the coins were minted during end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century – and deposited after 1932.
After several years of unsucessful investigation, containment and exhibition at the British Museum, much speculation, and a whole lot of story telling, the coins were also the subject of an inquest opened to find the owner. After hearing the evidence on 18 April 2011, the Coroner’s Court of the Inner North Borough of London concluded the case by deeming the find ‘Not Treasure’.
With the gold returned to its rightful owner and the case closed, questions remain surrounding aspects of its value and whether its legend as a rare contemporary find outweighs its rate on the open market. In art and popular contemporary culture, value is not dependent on precious materials, as treasure may be. There is no precedence and no Magistrate to rule. There is only the curious triangulation of value we assign between the viewer, the object and the market. Often notoriety equates to monetary value. So does the narrative form outweigh the material? Can the value we construct truly be translated into monetary terms? Let the excavation begin.
GALERIE8 presents a project initiated by celebrated artist and amateur London historian Adam Dant, which takes the discovery and narrative surrounding the “Hackney Hoard” as a starting point. What follows is an enquiry of the value and status placed on the contemporary art object led by invited artists, illustrators, writers and story tellers. Including an introduction by Terry Castle and artworks by Adam Dant, LE GUN artists, Matthew Killick & Last Tuesday Society, Annabel Tilley and Gavin Turk.