A Florida man has been charged with criminal damage after smashing a vase by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Maximo Caminero, 51, who claims to be an artist, is facing criminal charges for his actions. He stated that the act was a protest against the new museum’s failure to exhibit work by local artists.
The vase valued at $1m £600,000 was on exhibit at the new Perez Art Museum in Miami which opened during the prestigious Art Basel Miami fair in December last year. The artists work will remain on display until mid March. The vase is made from a modified, painted found object (an ancient Han Dynasty vase) and suggests the irreverent nature of Ai’s project and reconfigure materials in new and evocative ways. With a broad formal range, Ai has continuously challenged possible meanings and modes of art making, most recently employing the Internet and its global reach as a platform for activism and expression. His provocative and beautiful works of art and architecture are an exploration of the transformative potential of contemporary art, which he said is “not a form but a philosophy of society.”
The museum’s security guard told police that Mr Caminero lifted up a painted terracotta vase that was part of an installation, and when told to put it down, smashed it on the floor, according to a police report.
The Florida artist told the Miami New Times that he had destroyed the vase in protest and would be holding a press conference on Tuesday. “I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here,” he told the newspaper. “They have spent so many millions now on international artists.” Mr Caminero said he acted spontaneously, inspired by Ai Weiwei’s own art. Behind the installation are a series of three black-and-white photos showing Ai holding a vase and then letting it drop to the ground, smashing into pieces. “I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest,” Mr Caminero told the New Times.
Ai Weiwei: According to What? is the first major international survey of this vital artist’s multifaceted artistic oeuvre. This exhibition reveals Ai’s practice as emerging from an ever-questioning dialogue with the social, political and cultural positions of his native China and the world at large. Ai (b. 1957) works in a range of media, including architecture and design, and this exhibition will feature work of the last 20 years, including photography and the large-scale sculptures for which the artist is best known.
Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2014