What Should It Play…?

June 3, 2011, 1:08 PM

Venice Biennale: Money Talks, Make That Sings

By CAROL VOGEL
A visitor at the A.T.M.Ruth Fremson/The New York TimesA visitor at the A.T.M.

Let’s please dispense with the clichés about art and money and instead take a look at getting hold of cash in Venice. There is only one A.T.M. machine in the whole of the Giardini, the gardens at the tip of the city that is home to the national pavilions.  It’s in a space of its own at the back of the American pavilion.

But this is no run-of-the-mill A.T.M.  The brainchild of the artist duo Allora & Calzadilla, it is a pipe organ with an A.T.M. embedded in its belly that is computer-programmed to play a tune when a person puts in their pin number. Even when returning customers use it, no two tunes are alike.

Naturally it has become quite the hot spot, with lines forming outside the pavilion all day. Theories have even been circulating that the bigger someone’s balance, the more elaborate and longer the composition, something officials at the pavilion hotly deny.

During the first three days of the Biennale’s V.I.P. preview earlier this week, more than 100,000 euros were withdrawn from the machine.  That amount, Lisa Freiman, commissioner of the pavilion said, is three or four times the normal activity of an A.T.M. in Italy, according to BNL, the bank that operates it.

When it gets low on cash, gun-toting guards can be seen coming to replenish it.

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