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US artist smashes $1 million vase at Miami art museum

Miami: A South Florida artist is facing a criminal charge after police say he smashed a $1 million (Rs 6.22 crore) vase at Miami’s new art museum to protest what he called its favouritism for international rather than local art.


Protest art: Maximo Caminero picked up one the vases, which were on display, and when asked to put it down dropped it on the floor. Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (inset), whose work was damaged, said that he wasn’t taking the loss too seriously. File Pics

Maximo Caminero (51), was charged with criminal mischief after the incident at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

According to the Miami Police Department arrest affidavit, a security guard told officers that Caminero picked up a coloured vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. When told to put it down, the security guard said Caminero smashed it on the floor.

Caminero told police he did it because the Perez Art Museum Miami did not exhibit work by local artists. The display of work by Ai Weiwei includes more than a dozen vases and a series of photographs, which famously show him dropping a Han dynasty urn.

Caminero, a painter, said, “I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here. They have spent so many millions now on international artists.”

nse to the photographs. “I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest.” Ai said he did not support artists destroying other artists' work.

He said that he thought a line should be drawn when it came to damaging public or private property as part of a protest.
“I can’t have a show in Beijing but I cannot go to museums to break work in Beijing,” he said.

“My work is basically forbidden to be shown in China ... The protest itself may be valid but to damage somebody’s work to do that is questionable.”

He added he that believes he has been contacted by the gallery but he isn’t taking the loss too seriously.
“I don’t really care much and actually my work is often damaged in different shows, because it’s fragile so normally I don’t take these things too highly. Damage is damage, you know. If they have insurance, maybe it will be covered.”

Inspired protest?

Maximo Caminero’s way of protest is ironical, as it echoes one of Ai’s most famous works, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), a triptych that shows him destroying a Chinese artifact. The Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn pictures were hanging behind the soon-to-be-smashed Colored Vases.

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