Jeff Koons Self Harm Man In Hospital After Defacing Whitney Retrospective

Canadian performance artist Istvan Kantor known for his blood pieces, has smeared the walls of the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum with his own blood, to protest the ‘blatant commerciality and shallowness’ of the well known, New York based contemporary artist. The altercation took place yesterday at the Museum. He was photographed by passerbys, using a mobile phone. Kantor was seen erratically raising his arms and waving a piece of paper.

After signing the wall mural, Mr Kantor AKA Monty Cantsin was escorted by security guards and sent to a local hospital for psychological evaluation. The exhibition was briefly shut but reopened shortly after the incident. None of the works by Mr Koons was damaged by the happening.

Istvan Kantor is a Hungarian-born (1949) Canadian performance and video artist, industrial music and electropop singer, and one of the early members of Neoism. In the 1970s, Kantor studied medicine, but also participated in the underground arts scene of communist Budapest that centered around the folksinger Laszlo Beke. In 1976, at Art Club Budapest, he met the American prankster and Mail Artist David Zack, who was then touring through Europe with his mail-art collection. Zack encouraged Kantor to join him in America; Kantor emigrated via Paris to Montreal and, in 1978, lived one year with Zack and Blaster Al Ackerman in Portland, Oregon, encountering and working with artists from the Mail Art and industrial music scenes. He was one of a couple of persons to whom Zack suggested the idea of adopting the multiple identity Monty Cantsin,  but only Kantor took this proposal seriously and adopted the Cantsin identity to the extent that it became chiefly associated with him. Returning to Montreal, he organized a Mail Art show, “The Brain in the Mail”, and gathered together a group of people, many of them teenagers or in their early 20s, under the moniker of Neoism. Soon afterwards, Neoism expanded into an international subcultural network that collectively used the Monty Cantsin identity.

Kantor’s own work in the late 1970s and early 1980s consisted most notably of the “Blood Campaign”, an ongoing series of performances in which he takes his own blood and splashes it onto walls, canvases or into the audience, often in combination with singing electropop songs that mix elements of new wave and industrial music, Hungarian folksongs and Neoist manifesto lyrics, combined with para-military clothing and punk hairstyles. Kantor expanded the theatrical, opera-like quality of his performances through the medium of video which gained him international recognition and awards as a video performance artist from the 1980s until today {fact}. At the same time, he continued to work within the Neoist network, co-organizing and participating in a series of Neoist festivals, which began as Apartment Festivals (“APTs”) between 1980 and 1988 and were continued in 1997 and 2004. Just like his enemy Stewart Home, he has been controversial within Neoism for allegedly using the movement as a publicity vehicle for himself.

Recent work involves noise installations and performances with electrically modified file cabinets. He also founded the “Machine Sex Action Group” which realizes theatrical cyber-futuristic body performances in an S/M style. The human body in its relation to machines, explored both in its apocalyptic and subversive potentials remains a major theme of his work. His more controversial works involve vandalism and gore, painting large X’s in his own blood on the walls of modern art museums, and in doing so he has been banned from many of the world’s art galleries, a status he holds with pride. In 2004, he threw a vial of his own blood on a wall beside a sculpture of Michael Jackson by Paul McCarthy in the Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museum of Berlin. In March 2004 he was awarded the Canadian Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media arts.

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