The Cup Project

Between 1996-1999, Marie Christine Katz collected 128 cups from New York City’s homeless population. The installation also includes fifteen empty spaces for people who wouldn’t give up their cup when asked. Throughout the process of creating this work, Katz paid $1.00 for each donation, reversing the process of the traditional pan-handling agreement. At times, when Katz would tell a homeless person what the project was about, that it was for art, she would be asked to give $2.00. If a cup wasn’t given, she would give the person a dollar anyway.

Throughout the project, Katz kept a journal, recording her travels and the stories she heard. Some homeless refused to sell their cup because they were fearful Katz would cast a voodoo spell on them or they didn’t want her to take their “lucky cup.” The wall installation consists of paper, plastic and metal cups, filling a space that is approximately 60-inches wide x 75-inches high. The bottom of each cup has the name and date of birth of the participants in their own handwriting.