Free Money, 2019, was a performative gesture that occurred twice, each in different contexts.
The first, pictured above, took place outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I walked around, in my studio clothing, with a notebook paper sign reading "FREE MONEY" written in bold marker, while smoking and carrying $600 in hundred dollar bills. I walked the stairs of the museum, showing the patrons exiting the museum, those stretched out along the grand entrance, and passers-by on the sidewalk my sign, and occasionally flashing the bills in my hand. No one stopped or took any money.
The second, not documented, took place in a performance classroom at Columbia University. Students were seated around a square of tables in the center which had been aligned such that there was a space in the middle of them. They were taking turns presenting a short work. In my turn, I entered, wearing a suit jacket over a black t-shirt and jeans and placed a chair facing me in the middle of the space between the tables. Then, I sat down opposite the chair, and opened a manilla envelope reading:
Step 1: Sit down
Step 2: Ask for money"
again, in bold marker. A student ducked below the table, and sat in the chair in the central space. I was asked for 10 dollars. "Do you have change?" I replied. She shook her head, "no." I withdrew a $100 bill, and offered it. She looked at me strangely, and I gestured for her to take it. She did, crawled back out of the ring of tables, and sat back down. Another student entered, and sat down. "Can I have a hundred dollars?" I placed another bill on the table, it was taken, and the student left. Another enters, sits, and asks for two dollars. I thought I may have had that amount in change, so I pulled out my wallet and checked. I didn't, "I think I'm out of money..." The student accepted, and returned their seat, ducking back out of the ring of tables. The instructor then slides in, "Can I have a thousand dollars?" "Ralph, I'm out of money, sorry." He slid back to his seat, and I closed the folder.