Artist Smashes Ai Weiwei Vase at Pérez Art Museum Miami

Vases by the artist Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

On Sunday, February 16, Miami-based artist Maximo Caminero picked up and smashed a vase by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which is currently showing his retrospective “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” Caminero claims that his action—a riff of sorts on one of Ai’s best-known works, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), which was hanging nearby—was a protest against Miami museums’ perceived tendency to showcase international artists and snub local ones. According to the Miami New Times, Caminero is now being charged with criminal mischief for destroying the vase, which was valued at $1 million.

“I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here,” Caminero told the New Times. “They have spent so many millions now on international artists. It’s the same political situation over and over again. I’ve been here for 30 years and it’s always the same.”

In a statement released by the museum, which opened in December 2013, its administration deplored Caminero’s act and deemed it vandalism, not protest:

Earlier this week, a museum visitor intentionally broke a vase in the Ai Weiwei exhibition. The museum’s security team immediately secured the galleries and the person was apprehended. He is now in police custody, and the museum is working with the authorities in their investigation. Although the museum can’t speak directly to intentions, evidence suggests that this was a premeditated act. As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression, but this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Pérez Art Museum Miami, and to our community.

—Benjamin Sutton

(Photo Courtesy Pérez Art Museum Miami, via Facebook.)

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