An American man was in the news yesterday after he smashed one of Ai Weiwei’s iconic painted vases in a protest against foreign art in his local gallery. One would expect Ai Weiwei to appreciate the irony, as some of his most famous work has centered around smashing, defacing, and otherwise ‘modifying’ priceless vases. Ai Weiwei was not amused.
“I don’t encourage anyone to protest by destroying other people’s property,” said Ai, apparently forgetting that time he dropped Han dynasty urns, cut up shoes, wrecked a bunch of chairs, and ruined some perfectly good bicycles. Mr. Ai claims that the Miami vase-smashing is “very different,” because when Ai ruined pots and bikes and the lot, they “raised some new questions.”
Maximo Caminero’s stunt, if it’s done anything at all, has raised questions. Questions like: a single pot covered with paint is worth US$1 million? The piece that Caminero attacked featured 16 vases haphazardly covered in thick paint, and is presumably worth sixteen million dollars. Another question: Caminero said the Han urn he destroyed looked like “a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot.” Did he really think he’d walk away from this with a slap on the wrist?
It’s a fair point to say that Ai owned the objects he destroyed, while Caminero did not. But doesn’t that—here’s where I don my dark turtle-neck sweater, thick-rimmed glasses, and change my name to Dieter—just make it edgier? Let’s just agree that nobody walks away looking wiser from this one.
[Image via SCMP]