5 Dec


This is what you get when rolling around on the floor, self-harming and generally making a tit of yourself become normalised as art practices: a woman (really, but non-fatally) stabbed by another woman in the neck and arms with a craft knife during an altercation at Art Basel Miami Beach and taken out on a stretcher while police cordoned off the crime scene was described by onlookers as “a performance art presentation.” Two of these patrons were “sipping champagne” and gawking at the bloody floor from behind police tape even as they expressed their horror that it was a real stabbing. Still think covering yourself in body fluids, paint, food (etc.) is cutting edge or exploring new territory? The public are now so blasé about this “transgressive” type of art that they assume crimes, violent incidents and bloody accidents are art interventions, so the answer is a resounding NO.

Obviously I hope the unfortunate victim gets well soon, but this whole scenario is like a scene from a John Waters film. An artist opined that he thought it was more likely that “a piece of art fell on her” because nobody gets stabbed at Art Basel– putting me in mind of the woman in Airplane! who idly muses that “Jim never vomits at home…” as the aircraft is crashing. Not to mention the Road Runner cartoon imagery of a patron at an art fair being splattered underneath a heavy sculpture, as if that’s a likely event. The fact that the stabbing was done with an X-Acto knife vaguely suggests that the assailant was either an artist or worked for an art gallery, for a little Valerie Solanas spice. And of course the incident takes place in the comprehensively daft and beyond satire 1-percenter bubble of Art Banal Miami Vice itself, where the important art works on show include a female mannequin set up to crush walnuts between its thighs and a man punching canvases with boxing gloves full of paint.




  1. Alistair 05/12/2015 at 12:42 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

    • Eric Wayne 07/12/2015 at 3:00 PM #

      I heard about this yesterday and had about the same reaction. But it also raised another sticky question, or at least a rhetorical one: why isn’t it art? I’m sure you know that Stockhausen declared 9/11 a great work of art. When Paul McCarthy was my teacher at UCLA, he instructed us students that taking out the garbage could be art. Chris Burden having himself shot in the arm was art. If a urinal could be art, we learned that anything at all in the art context could be art, such as Damien Hirst’s reconstruction of a pharmacy in a gallery space, which was mistaken for a pharmacy. So if an attempted murder which takes place within the art context of an art space is mistaken for a performance art piece, was it not then at least art in the eyes of those spectators while they initially witnessed it? Is it unintentional art and the runaway hit of the season?
      Of course I don’t think it’s art, but when we say it’s not art, does that mean that Marina Abromovic sitting in a gallery and sharing staring moments also is no more art than when the hugging guru, Mātā Amṛtānandamay, hugs her legions of devotees one by one?
      Something’s got to give. Either performance body art isn’t entirely art (meat joy, or what have you), or a stabbing in an art setting isn’t entirely not art. If the intent were for it to be art, with non-life-threatening harm built into it, than it would have been accepted as art, though would be open to all manner of criticism on grounds of ethics and taste.
      I think one could write a satirical piece about why it was the best art in the show because it removed all barriers between life and art, artistic intent and intent brought about by conditions, necessities, disruptions, and perversions of circumstances. It was more real than the other art. A new kind of art form could evolve, which is the purity of the unintended art action or happening. People would no longer go to see what was on display, which was pure artifice, but what incidental art might happen in the sanctified arena of art. A child might vomit prosciutto. Someone’s offensive body art might be a sensation.

      The new artists would be the guileless. Currently the only thing that’s generally forbidden in more radical art education (such as the one I received) is to try to make a meaningful painting, or what was generally previously thought of as the core of visual art. Perhaps now is the time to expand it to all of the newer genres as well, which have become old and academic.

      The only true art is the completely unintentional actions of non-artists, because only those are pure and unsullied by artifice or quotation marks.

      • Alistair 07/12/2015 at 5:10 PM #

        I’ll come back to this when I have more time because there’s a lot to discuss, but there seems here to be an obvious connection to the concept of Art Brut and/or Outsider Art that arose in the 20th century (uncoincidentally alongside modernism, abstraction etc. and them being installed as mainstays of the art market), i.e. that the purest art is art unsullied (in its making, at least) by what anybody else thinks. I’m not sure I always or entirely agree, but I’d rather somebody was coming from that direction than cynically making work that pushes the buttons of whatever happens to be a buzz issue or in vogue practice of the moment, as many critically lauded but intellectually hollow contemporary artists do.
        You’re right that despite not really being art this crime was undoubtedly the best art shown at Art Banal Miami Vice this year, but that’s more of a shameful reflection upon the exceedingly low quality of the other art on show than an accolade for the stabeuse’s cutting edge performance…

      • Eric Wayne 08/12/2015 at 1:30 AM #

        “Cutting edge performance!” Why didn’t I think of that?



    […] wee update on this story about a woman who attacked a fellow visitor to Art Basel Miami Beach last December, while onlookers interpreted the whole thing as some kind of performance art. The attacker, Siyuan […]

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