Naked Man With Creepy Mask Causes a Stir at Art Basel Hong Kong

Was it intended as performance art?

Arario Gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017. Photo Jessica Hromas for Art Basel.

A naked man sporting a creepy purple face mask and wearing what appeared to be a bloody feminine hygiene pad over his genital area caused quite a stir at Art Basel Hong Kong during its VIP preview on March 22.

According to reports and video footage posted to social media, the man was surrounded by security guards who hustled him away from onlookers, who were equal parts curious and disturbed. The man appeared to be arguing with security guards and was still shouting as he was being led away. It’s not clear how long he was roaming free before he was noticed and ejected.

A security guard can be overheard saying in Chinese (as translated by artnet News): “I am telling you now, you have to leave immediately… your ticket has been cancelled.”

The man asks: “Are there any regulations saying that I cannot enter this way?” adding as he was being escorted out: “I have purchased a ticket.”

Janelle Zara, an art journalist who had a bird’s-eye view of the fracas, said the man was shouting in Cantonese. Beyond that, “we have no idea who he was or what happened before or after,” Zara told artnet News.

It’s unclear whether the man was an artist or was staging some type of performance work. At the 2015 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach, visitors initially mistook a horrific stabbing for a piece of performance art.

Asked for comment, a representatives for Art Basel in Hong Kong told artnet News via email: “On Wednesday afternoon, a visitor staged a performance on the show floor, causing a disturbance to other visitors and exhibitors. As the visitor refused to end his performance or leave when asked, staff of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) escorted him off the property.”

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