The art world was horrified earlier this month after watching video of a selfie attempt gone horribly wrong at a Los Angeles exhibit which resulted in $200,000 worth of destroyed art. Well, it turns out that the clumsy selfie-taker was a Chinese student.
Surveillance footage of the unfortunate incident shows a young woman bending down to take a selfie in front of one of the pedestals holding a kind of crown designed by British-born, Hong Kong-based artist Simon Birch. The woman loses her balance, falling backward and trigging an unstoppable domino effect that takes out an entire row of Birch’s crowns inside a so-called “serene space” at The 14th Factory in LA.
Birch later told the New York Times that damage wrought totaled around $200,000 with three of this crowns “permanently damaged.” However, Birch seems to have taken the incident in stride. “Crowns are fragile things,” he said. “They are symbols of power. Perhaps it’s ironic and meaningful that they fell.”
And when asked afterward if he would have organized his exhibit differently had he known what would happen, he gave the following response: “If you try to design something that’s idiot-proof, the universe will design a better idiot.”
Inside a serene space, singular objects rest on plinths: these are crowns, or at least some resemblance of what a crown might be, presented as precious trophies or boons. The title of this work was inspired by the electronic dance track 'Hypercaine' by DJ Fresh. It is also a signifier of the ultimate human drug — power. – Simon Birch, Gloria Yu, Gabriel Chan and Jacob Blizter Brass, nylon, gold plate, marble, wood, stone, metal, 2016 – Customize your own crown ring in nylon, brass, gold-plated brass, silver or gold at the gift shop. Email [email protected] for details. – #14thFactory #SimonBirch #GloriaYu #Crowns #Hypercaine #ContemporaryArt #DTLA #artsdistrict Photo credit: @kaotikwestcoast
In a more recent interview with Red Star News, Birch said that the “idiot” in question was, in fact, a Chinese student studying at a local university and that he had no plans of seeking any compensation from her, explaining that it was obviously just an accident. “It’s not a big deal and nobody was hurt,” he added, also noting that the value of art is really in the eye of the beholder.
However, this isn’t the first time that Chinese tourists have wreaked havoc on an art exhibit, though typically the culprits are a bit younger. Last year at the Shanghai Museum of Glass a pair of parents gleefully filmed their little angels tearing apart one piece of angel wings artwork. Later that year, a giant lego version of a Zootopia character that took an artist three days of tireless work to build was destroyed in mere seconds by one reckless kid.
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