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U.K. Artists Buy $1.6M in Debts, Plan to Set Them on Fire

A pair of artists in the United Kingdom are attempting to turn debt into art.

The pair created fake bank notes and currency featuring people in their neighborhood. The fake notes and currency were then sold as artwork and raised nearly $53,000. Half of that was donated to charity and the other half was used to purchased and then forgive $1.6 million in unpaid debts.

The individuals whose debts were purchased were sent letters notifying them that their debts had been paid off. The pair behind the project — Artist Hilary Powell and filmmaker Dan Edelstyn — now plan to take the extinguished debts and set them on fire. The event will take place April 28 and is the culmination of a year-long effort by the two to “highlight the U.K.’s debt crisis,” according to a published report.

In order to facilitate their transactions, the two artists created the Hoe Street Community Bank (HSCB). Admitting that their project is not something that will fix the system, the pair said it is “a stunt that draws people into the story of debt, and teaches them about the secondary market, perhaps empowering them in the future to have a different conversation with creditors who ring them chasing them for debts that are in some sense purely imaginary.”

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