The Art of Onion Futures

Posted on March 15, 2020


I do not appreciate when people refer to KmikeyM as an "art project" because, while I love art, KmikeyM is my actual real life. To label it art is to separate it from real life and frame it as only a performance, or a protest, or a stunt.

But now, I offer a proposal to create a performance, a protest, and a stunt by turning financial crime into art.

I intend to grow onions and sell "futures" in those onions โ€” contracts that allow a buyer to lock in a certain price now for delivery of onions later. Selling those futures contracts will violate the federal law known as the Onions Futures Act, which bans trading of futures contracts on onions and on motion picture box office receipts. (Iโ€™m not making this up, go read it yourself!) Collaborating with my friend and shareholder, the artist Norberto Rodriguez, we will document the process and present the results as art.

This is a case where art makes economic sense. Art creates cultural value, and the physical manifestation of that cultural value can be traded. The art market is big business. There is also a precedent of hiding from the effects of criminal prosecution by making art. For example, of the many performances by Chris Burden he was never convicted of a crime (but was arrested once).

At the end of last year, I wrote about my obsession with onion futures and a few weeks ago I planted a number of Walla Walla and Gladstone onion seeds (see them grow on my live stream). But the next step is the criminal part. To create and sell the futures contracts.

RESULT OF A YES VOTE: If the shareholders vote yes I will, as an artistic endeavor, create and sell futures contracts for my onion crop. I will facilitate the trading of these contracts and I will deliver my onions to them at the time specified in the contract. I will also work with Norberto to document all aspects of the process and generate physical products which can be displayed and sold in an art setting.

RESULT OF A NO VOTE: I will grow my onions for myself, and then cook them and eat them.

Past Discussion

Zach ๐ŸŒดโ˜• (11.0 shares, voted yes)
I'm supportive of seeing how this plays out.
Douglas Dollars ๐Ÿ’ฏ (1326.549 shares)
Withholding my vote on this one, but you may want to contact Peter at (who owns / vidaliaonions). Not sure if he'd be game given the potential risk to his operation, but could be a good bit of fun press.
Robby Russell โ˜•๐Ÿ’ฏ (115.0 shares, voted yes)
Would be interested in๐Ÿง„ futures, too.
beau ๐Ÿ’ฏโ˜•๏ธโ˜Ž๏ธ (201.0 shares, voted yes)
i want to buy some onion futures!
jmikeye (50.0 shares, voted no)
I'm curious to know if you have a more detailed plan for the collaboration, documentation, and artistic processes beyond "we will document the process and present the results as art." I think I could like the project and vote yes, but am currently voting no until a more concrete vision for what this will look like is presented.
CyberPunk2072 (5.0 shares, voted yes)
Both art and prison time could be considered formative character development for our investment. I vote 'yes' to either or both.
A J Cole (2.0 shares, voted no)
But is the point to draw enough attention to this project to result attention/prosecution? Or is this project is meant to stay under the radar?
Mike Merrill ๐ŸŽ–๐ŸŒฎ๐ŸŒด
It's an explorartion, so it's hard to say what the best possible result will be. Norberto has a long history of documentation of his work, and his help will be invaluable in making certain that we are maintaining an artistic intent. As for the actual final result it would be premature to declare X number of paintings or Y photographs at such an early stage. As for the point, Norberto and I disagree on this personally. For me it's more a protest, and that is accomplished no matter if we are prosecuted or not.
freddy โ˜•๏ธ (6.0 shares, voted yes)
I don't think you're going to be able to convince people to buy these for a price that's very compelling, from a narrative point of view. I also am not convinced that you will succeed in growing onions - do you have a gardening/agricultural advisor? Nevertheless, we're all very COVID-bored, so why not?
Becki907 (10.0 shares, voted yes)
I'm interested to see how this will turn into a work of art. I know anything can be presented as art, but what style of art will it fall into? Can't wait to see!
jesserifkin โ˜•๏ธ (1.0 shares, voted no)
Voting no on this specific question, but Iโ€™d vote yes if Mike switches it to a very similar alternative: betting on the box office, the other economic activity banned by the 1958 law. Neither Mike, nor almost any shareholder, actually knows anything about onions. But we all know about the movies. I could see Mike posting quick immediate questions to the shareholders on Weejee and/or Slack, like โ€œFilm X opens next weekend, how much money should I predict it will earn?โ€ This would keep Mikeโ€™s vision of a "lawbreaking art projectโ€ alive, but in a way that would keep shareholders more involved and excited than onions ever would. (Major asterisk here: almost every cinema in America is currently shut down because of COVID-19. My proposal would take effect once cinemas return.)
Josh Berezin โ˜•๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฏ (663.0 shares, voted yes)
I propose: After this project is successfully executed, you should turn yourself in.