The following was reported by The Guardian today:
Miami police have arrested a local artist who they say destroyed a $1 million vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei to protest that the city’s newly opened museum is only displaying international art.
Dominican-born Maximo Caminero, 51, was arrested and charged on Sunday with criminal mischief after picking up one of 16 brightly painted vases at the Perez Art Museum Miami and throwing it to the ground when confronted by security, according to a police report.
He told police he broke the vase to protest that the museum “only displayed international artists,” according to the police report.
Caminero, reached by telephone, told Reuters he is a painter and lives in Miami. He said he planned to host a news conference on Tuesday to explain his actions and declined to comment further.
He told the Miami New Times he had no idea the vase was so valuable, and said he was a fan of Ai.
“I didn’t know that it was that amount,” he told the paper’s online edition, saying he thought it was “a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot, frankly.”
Now, isn’t this interesting? I say interesting because the ‘act’of Caminero involved an artwork by Ai Weiwei, who himself featured in a famous ‘act’ destroying a Han Dynasty vase. It was a metaphor –in part- on art as a cycle of creation-destruction and a reflection on breaking the taboos, as well as a criticism of an oppressive regime that almost enslaved workers into mass production. In other words, it was an outcry against a power structure.
If Caminero destroyed the vase to protest the museum’s discrimination against local artists, isn’t this –in a way- what Ai Weiwei himself had done before? Aren’t museums a perfect example of a power structure that decides the ‘fate’ and shapes the ‘taste’ of entire generations?
Of course there is the initial rejection to the idea of destroying a work of art to get your message across, but in this specific case, if I were Ai Weiwei, I would bless the act and forgive the damage.