Weil jeder Pfennig Teil einer grossen Idee ist
Left-over Penny Campaign.
Because every Penny is Part of a Bigger Idea
January 1998- July 2002
Download PDF here
The Left-over Penny Campaign collected unused economic and intellectual capital – ideas and wishes – in the form of one German Pfennig coins from 1998-2002. 13 tons of coins were collected in public space throughout Germany. The public collection sites were located in Berlin (Alexanderplatz), Munich (Marienplatz) and Nuremberg (Königstrasse), as well as smaller collection sites and thousands of private collection boxes. 1,601 ideas and wishes were gathered through letters, e-mails and interviews. An integral element of the concept was to involve the public in the decision making process of what should happen with the collected coins and visions. 1,087 persons applied to be a part of the decision committee. Of these, twelve were randomly selected on 3rd April 2002 in a public event and invited to decide which of the 1,601 ideas and wishes should be realised. The group of eight women and four men of ages between 18 and 46 represented the invisible crowd of tens of thousands of participants. A professional communication and process manager, Ulrich Drescher, facilitated the two weekends. He was briefed to provide the group with a safe environment to be able to participate in the decision making process among strangers. I was present as silent witness and gave a first short introduction at the beginning of the first weekend. One other person was present to document the process. The greater public was excluded. The group had a board of experts to hand if needed: a lawyer, a public art commissioner, a manager of Charities and Third-Sector Research, a manager of the National Institute for Occupational Education and Pilot Schemes were also available via telephone.
The wishes were categorised for the commission after the collection ended in March 2002: 729 social wishes and ideas, 31 foundation wishes, 103 private wishes, 136 artistic wishes, 576 other wishes.
The committee met for two weekends in May and June of 2002 in the ACC Gallery in Weimar. On the first weekend, they worked out together a list of criteria and they decided upon its rules for voting.
The list of criteria was as follows:
1. The idea must be able to be realised with the pennies/ materials to hand
2. The idea must come from the idea pool
3. The idea is defined in a way that can be realised
4. The idea is effective and sustainable
5. Synergies are recognisable
6. The idea is immediately effective/ clearly effective/ concretely effective
7. The art/ the identity of the Left-over Penny Campaign must be retained
8. The idea is accessible
On the second weekend, they chose four wishes:
1. Wish 1485: The preservation of the mountain of pennies in smaller form. 250 kg of the coins (approximately 10 buckets) should to be taken from the collection sites and preserved as a symbolic mountain of pennies.
2. Wish 995: To set up and realise an Artistic Idea Competition: since this was a very complex idea, the committee decided to support an existing artistic competition. The artist group finger called for submission for "Evolutionary Cells – A Self-Representative Design of Societal Perspectives". They were given a grant of €6,000: €5,000 to award their chosen favourites and an additional €1,000 to cover the administrative costs for the project. (www.evolutionaere-zellen.org) <http://p110978.typo3server.info/#_ftn3>
3. Wish 631: Seating in public space: working together with artists and/ or participants in the cities of Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg, seating was created. All three projects were finalised by 2007.
4. Wish 1400: Covering costs of the project: any open costs of the Left-over Penny Campaign should be covered (with the foreign currency coins); the artist Susanne Bosch should not be required to bear these costs.
In June and July of 2002, all of the collection sites were emptied, publicly sorted and brought to the appropriate national banks for payment.
The project was initiated and run by one single artist. However, altogether over the four and a half years, besides the thousands who gave their spare Pfennigs and 1,601 donors of wishes and visions, approximately 500 persons actively helped the project. Many institutions, government officials, prize juries, decision makers and private citizens helped to make this project possible.
Examples of Wishes Connected to German Politics and World Events
Wish 1021: Because of BSE, spontaneous mass slaughters of cattle are organised, lots of cattle are killed out of caution (...), of which 0.1% may have BSE! There was an action in India, where cattle are sacred animals, to bring the (just maybe sick) animals to them, where they can live in peace, certainly better than in German slaughter houses, barns and stomachs!
Wish 503: The money should be sent to the victims in New York. That I get a paid apartment and that the homeless get a home with supervisory personnel.
Wish 624: Rebuild the World Trade Centre in New York.
Wish 758: A memorial to all Germans who died on 09-11-2001 in New York.
Examples of Wishes Reflecting Local Situations
Wish 153: Re-construction of East Berlin [Alexanderplatz]. We were appalled at the condition of "our" Alexanderplatz and environment of our childhood memories.
Wish 167: I would find the instalment of city toilets more appropriate, especially on Alexanderplatz. And another playground there, because the present one is pretty nice, but more a work of art than a playground!
Wish 183: I wish: A new test for hire-a-bike in Berlin. Put stops everywhere in the city centres for hire-a-bike. For 2 - 5 DM one can borrow them and bring them back again later – or many drinking fountains in the city.
Wish 234: National Exchange: The Bavarians should move to Berlin and the Berliners to Bavaria. In this way, intra-German understanding would be improved.
Wish 396: I would like to see child-friendly fountains or child-friendly water features in the inner city of Munich.
Wish 842: I hope that this action can support "AURA" in Nuremberg, who struggles each year for survival for financial reasons. "AURA" teaches and offers self-defense classes to girls and women.
Wish 1003: Support for the day hospital for children with cancer. There's a support association in Berlin, whose Chairman is Mrs Ellen von Hartz Geitel. The clinic is located in Berlin.
Examples of Participants Expressing Visions
Wish 632: My spontaneous idea for the 5.12.01: The establishment of a company where the workers are all older than 50 and who today, despite great ideas and experience, cannot find a job. I'm 27 and my father is 60 and he can still achieve a lot!
Wish 1488: I find the mixture of a fictional story (Petra's childhood story) and reality (Left-over Penny Campaign) interesting. In addition, I find it legitimate when an art project obtains money for itself in such an action. There is a study from Sotheby’s that states in Germany there are 80,000 artists, 8,000 of whom exhibit in galleries, 800 of whom occasionally sell something, 80 of whom can live from their art, and 8 who are "blue chip" artists. I think this estimate is quite realistic, especially when you look at the statistics of the Artists Social Fund [KSK], which says that 95% of German artists must earn their money elsewhere. Thereby I would recommend that from the left-over pennies, one or X numbers of kebab kiosks could be bought and rented with the objective of making a profit. The owners of these kebab kiosks should be artists, preferably non-commercial artists. A kebab kiosk serves as example here, because I think that it can be a profit-making, functional business. The artist can live off the earnings, as well as the person who runs the kiosk. One could, for example, make this a life-long project or run it as a stipend. Such a kebab kiosk could be made mobile like a trailer, so it remains flexible. Depending on the budget, there could be many kebab kiosks across Germany or even across all of Europe. I estimate that such a kiosk would cost around 10,000 Deutschmark. The selection of the artists I would leave to Susanne Bosch; her function then becomes that of patron, as she has also brought the money together. I personally would give the first kiosk to her for several years.
Wish 1404: The pennies, in their capacity as money, should increase. How does money increase itself? In that it works. The transformation of money through human energy should be represented by a fitness studio in which human energy is created (by way of the step and other machines). This energy would be measured and publicly displayed and then stored in the electricity circuit. Perhaps working together with e.on [an energy company in Germany]. The money from the energy could then, for example, be used as a contribution to health care or for the environment and also invested in other fitness centres. The type of ambiance of the centre should remind us of the penny's origins; the use of the left-over energy is related to art and artists as shown by exhibitions, etc. Shaping, transformation, beauty and work stand in a tight symbiosis. Humans will be freed of their left-over pennies, which they carry like excess fat, in a useful way.
Forms of Inviting to Express a Vision or Wish
In Case Study One, the questions were formulated in a variety of ways in an attempt to meet the entire public:
If I had money, I would (…) If I were king or queen of Germany (…) What if money was readily available for the realisation of wishes, visions and ideas? How would the future look like? What would you do with the mountain of left-over pennies? Which problem would you solve first of all? What are you dreaming about? Which ideas do you have? What would you love to realise?
 After a public talk, by Alexander Tolnay, former director of the NBK, Berlin, drew the participants in front of the audience, 3rd April 2002.