A Vase, Inspiration, and Destruction (or Performance Art) on Exhibit at Miami Museum

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February 18, 2014; New York Times


At first blush, the reports of the wanton destruction of a vase created by dissident Chinese artist Ai WeiWei sound relatively senseless, but then it becomes clear that some pretty clear suggestive provocation occurred in the placement of the vases in front of this set of photos: Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), also by Ai.

Maximo Caminero, a local artist, claims to have been inspired by the three photographs in which Ai drops and destroys a priceless ancient Chinese vase “to make a point about valuation of art and everyday objects as well as the fragility of cultural objects.”

Mr. Caminero, originally from the Dominican Republic but a longtime resident of Miami, told the Miami New Times that he had broken the vase to protest what he said was the Pérez Art Museum’s exclusion of local artists in its exhibits. Caminero claims to be an admirer of Ai but says that he destroyed the vase “for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here.”

“It’s the same political situation over and over again,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve been here for 30 years and it’s always the same.”

Ai is quoted by the New York Times as saying that he said he was not in despair over the incident. “I’m O.K. with it, if a work is destroyed,” Mr. Ai said. “A work is a work. It’s a physical thing. What can you do? It’s already over.”

Again, the Pérez museum describes the three photographs in front of which the vases were placed as Ai dropping an urn dating from 206 BCE to 220 CE to the floor “to express the notion that new ideas and values can be produced through iconoclasm.”

“I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest,” Mr. Caminero told the New Times.—Ruth McCambridge