Untitled (Gold) consists of part of the poem Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg by British humorist and poet Thomas Hood (1799 1845). This poem is a timeless satire about the corrupting power of money. Miss Kilmansegg is the daughter of a banker, who insists on having an artificial limb made out of gold after she loses one of her legs in a riding accident; fearing that she cannot find a husband she expects this golden leg will make her more attractive. The golden limb indeed attracts much attention and makes her the talk of the town, bringing her to the notice of a charming man who successfully proposes marriage. Once he lays his hands on the young woman's fortune, he proceeds to squander it until the coffers are empty, at which point he beats the unfortunate girl's head in with her golden leg, and runs off with it.
Sociological experiments, often realized through a game, intend to observe human behavior and test human borders of altruism and egoism. The Ultimatum Game has been of particular interest for the work Untitled (Gold). In this game, two players are offered a chance to win a sum of money. All they must do is divide it. The proposer suggests how to split the sum. The responder can accept or reject
the deal. If the deal is rejected, neither player gets anything. The rational solution is for the proposer to offer the smallest possible share and for the responder to accept it. Generosity is thus defined as an offer greater than the minimum amount needed for acceptance. In Given Time, Derrida discusses the notion of generosity. Considering the conflicts imbedded in this is necessary as well, acknowledging the economic instinct of human beings such as claiming ownership, or earning a profit.
Thomas Hood's poem is also is the opening sequence of Greed (1924) by Erich von Stroheim. Greed ends as how the finale of the Ultimatum Game can end: McTeague and his former friend strand in the middle of Death Valley, handcuffed to each other and without water or means of escape. This sequence, drenched in yellow, is considered one of the most poetic moments in cinema history; the two people, driven near insane by their money lust, drown in a sea of intense, debilitating gold.
Unititled (Gold) was made for 'Generosity is the new political' at Wysing Art Center in 2009, where it has been glooming in the fields since then, before being dismantled and transported to Witte de With in Rotterdam, in 2013.
In 2016 the piece is acquired by Ferens Art Gallery in Hull (UK).