Tag Archives: Art Basel


16 Apr


A 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 Zhao, has unsurprisingly been found to be suffering from a serious mental illness. Eventually coming back to a somewhat even keel through therapy and medication after randomly stabbing a stranger, trying to kill a therapy bird (whatever that is) and hearing voices that said “she needed to protect the event from the Middle Eastern terror group ISIS”, Zhao has agreed to “deport herself” back to China where her family will take care of her.

“She was very psychotic,” Dr. Ilan Melnick testified. He also said: “She felt ISIS was going to be at Art Basel to destroy the art.”

Dr. Melnick possibly slightly stating the obvious there, especially in conjunction with his second statement. Is it very wrong of me to wish that ISIS would attend Art Banal Miami Vice and destroy the art? I mean, why can’t they make themselves useful instead of murdering people and wallowing in all their adolescent, medieval emo shit about caliphates, jihad and whatnot?

ISIS are probably unnecessary, though, if anybody wants art destroyed. With all due respect to Ms. Zhao’s considerable though misguided enthusiasm for defending the exhibitions, the artists and galleries at Art Basel are doing quite a good job of destroying art already…

Art Basel knife wielder pleads guilty, must return to China


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.




21 Jun


Two shocking outbreaks of critique against the art world’s elite this week. By “shocking”, of course, I mean shocking that they actually got published at all. Artists and art people talk a million tons of shit about each other every single day in private, but not much of it ever comes out publicly. Except on this blog, obviously [LEERING TROLL FACE].

Firstly– though admittedly from the No Shit Sherlock Department– Pretentious Tino Sehgal Delivers Absurd Talk With Tina Brown to Baffled Bankers at Art Basel.* Pretentious, pompous Emperor’s New Clothes Tino Sehgal is pretentious, pompous and wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes. The story has no byline, but Artnet News helpfully provides this page, complete with mugshots, where you could try to work out who was responsible for dissing the non-performing performance artist with Homer Simpson’s hair and Marvin the Paranoid Android’s sense of humour. Regardless of who wrote it, when even those people accustomed to buttoning their lip and saying nothing if they can’t say anything nice think you’re so pretentious and full of “astonishing self-importance” that nobody could be offended by them saying so… you’re definitely one of the art world’s arseholes de les arseholes.

* The alliteration of Baffled Bankers made me think of Waffled Wankers. That is all, carry on.



“One of the biggest civilizational achievements of the West, apart from soap, is the convention of opening hours. There are two modalities on which you can organize people: appointments…and opening hours.”

Every single factual [sic] part of this paragraph is so far from being true or cogent that I would suspect he was trying to make some kind of provocative, trolling statement here, if I didn’t also suspect much more strongly that he genuinely thought this was a profound observation. “Civilizational” is not a word, nor should it be.

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6 Dec



Courtesy of one Nickolas Calabrese and the Art-agenda [sic] mailing list from the reliable nonsense mongers at e-flux. There appears to be little or no information available online about Mr. Calabrese, although in May 2012 he was described as an “artist and philosopher”. Please, no. By this week he was just an “artist and writer in New York.” Maybe the philosophy didn’t work out. Somebody’s intern, possibly? His oeuvre so far amounts to three reviews, but each of them is loaded with clumsy metaphors, malapropisms and other examples of what not to do in professional writing. Art-agenda apparently has editors. I feel like invoicing them for doing their job. I’m just reproducing the greatest (s)hits here; you can read the reviews in full elsewhere if you’ve nothing better to do.


“The site of the apocalypse is not spatial, but temporal, and right now it is in Miami.”

Hyperbole in critical writing can be fine sometimes– I mean, look at me– but horrible as Art Basel Miami Beach is, it isn’t an apocalypse for anyone or anything. Not even the presence of Miley Cyrus is a reliable indicator that the end is nigh, although one could be forgiven for thinking so or even hoping so. In fact it’s the opposite; ABMB is part of an ongoing, methodical consolidation and reification of what Calabrese rightly calls the “depraved dealers, conniving collectors, and the substandard artists.” Leaving his initial basic category error aside, what could this pretentious sentence actually mean? Historically, apocalypse has mostly been something thought of as happening at a particular future or imminent time and not at a particular place. He seems to be confusing apocalypse with some other word, too. “Cataclysm”, maybe?

“Another daringly underrated artist with a solo booth is Jack Early at New York’s Fergus McCaffrey.”

“Daringly underrated”? This is fridge magnet poetry. Who is being so bold as to underrate this artist and why should we care? How does one not rate something highly enough in a daring manner? He also gives us a “sad frog” being “strangely heartbreaking.” How about other [RANDOM ADVERB] + [RANDOM ADJECTIVE]s like “excitingly banal” or “bravely inactive”?

“Miami is simultaneously the site of the apocalypse and its prevarication.”

No, it isn’t. It is, however, another category mistake and mangled metaphor. Try to imagine an apocalypse prevaricating. “Er… yeah, I’m kind of overbooked this week, so I might be along and I might not. I just don’t know. Start without me and I’ll see you there if I can make it, OK?”


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