Our idea was to convince the Credit Suisse, one of the biggest banks in the world, to add a residency program to their cultural sponsorship activities by having a conceptual artist work next to its investment bankers on the trading floor. We hoped that bringing together two very different, but equally abstract, activities might shed some light on what makes each of them tick.
The proposal was simple. For three months a year, selected contemporary artists would be invited to sit with the bank’s traders and craft their works of conceptual art from the notorious trading floor. Like the investment bankers around them, artists would receive a base salary and a variable, performance-based bonus defined by a small committee of bankers. They’d also be required to work from a trading computer setup (suite and tie optional). Who needs a studio when you’ve got a screen – or nine, in the case of a trader? The only thing residents would be asked to do in exchange would be to invest themselves in some form of art-based community work on the trading floor.
The project was never approved, but we’ll always remember it vividly. Maybe Credit Suisse wasn’t a fan of conceptual art, or maybe they just found it best not to mix cash and creativity. Either way, we packed up our idea and filed this one as “bankrupt.”
Just like authors have unpublished novels in their drawers, every curator has exhibition ideas stashed away in secret folders on their MacBook Pro or scribbled into half-empty notebooks. These can range from plans for quiet performances to wild nights out, and everything in between. In an effort to give old ideas new life, Random Institute regularly releases some of these failed or unrealized projects online. Some weren’t ripe yet, some were flat-out rejected, and some just didn’t make any sense at all. But each of them brought us new ideas, and we hope they’ll find a home someday or catch some digital flâneur’s eye here on the world wide web.