“Goldenroach“ - Guerrilla movementFor an ongoing guerrilla art project called “Goldenroach“ Miklós Kiss has been smuggling 14-carat gold-plated bronze cockroaches into some of the world’s museums and galleries, making them part of the display. The artist has secretly placed his golden roaches inside the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, the British Museum, the Saatschi Gallery, the MUMOK, the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, MAXXI, Vatican Museums, the MOMA and the Venice Biennale since 2011. In addition, he places the matching “Goldenroach“ souvenirs and postcards into the museum gift shops for sale.
The roach as a carrier of the message is not a random choice, and naturally the used material itself has multiple symbolic values. The roach is seen as one of the most disgusting insects, which is capable of getting in anywhere. It also ill-famed for its imperishability. Due to people’s common repugnance, the roach has become a synonym of disgust, but also of survival, since its capability to adapt to most extreme situations.
It can be found all over the world and is considered everywhere as a pest or a source of infections, therefore it is exterminated anywhere possible. Unlike the real roaches, the „Goldenroaches“ go through multiple changes. Walking into museums, the holy places of culture, the ordinary roaches turn into gold reopening the fundamental discourse about art. The action carries classic and contemporary values at the same time. The smuggling effect is “roachy” and reflects a contemporary approach, while the material and artistry recall the style of classic art pieces.
Spontaneously invading museum exhibitions is not unprecedented in the art history, only consider Duchamp or Banksy. An important differentiator is, that with the Goldenroach, real material value is smuggled into the exhibition spaces highlighting questions like „What is the value of smuggled art? What is artistic value?“
Goldenroach Unlimited - The exhibitionIn 2014, in the first legal exhibition called “the Goldenroach Unlimited”, Kiss installed 12,000 plastic Goldenroaches along with one 14-carat gold roach hidden among the the plastic insects in the Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle in Budapest. At first glance these roaches are just like the cheap mass-produced, plastic figures of the toy-industry lacking genuineness or nobility, however they mistakably resemble the Goldenroaches made of real gold.
Visitors can choose a roach and are allowed to take the artwork out of the museum. This is recorded by cameras and live-streamed at the Goldenroach website. In the guerilla action the artist tries to avoid cameras and security guards not to be caught on the spot. In this exhibition it is the vistitors who act somewhat at stealth.
At the core of his work the artist generates questions, what is a work of art? Is the whole Goldenroach army the art or only the one out of gold? Is art interpreted by judging just by location or the way of display? Will the Goldenroach piece taken home remain art or will become just decoration? Will the visitor, who finds the single gold Goldenroach see it as art or simply as a piece of gold?