Phallus-Wielding Performer Arrested at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Kalan Sherrard and Maria Valenzuela.
Photo: Miami-Dade Corrections via NBC Miami.

New York performer Kalan Sherrard was arrested at the Miami Beach Convention Center last Sunday while, according to the police, “participating in a demonstration against the wealthy” that was taking place at the gates of Art Basel in Miami Beach.

According to a police report obtained by the Miami Herald, Sherrard and a group of about 30 other protesters were being ushered out of the building by police when Sherrard reach into his pants and produced a prosthetic penis. It was momentarily mistaken as a gun by officers.

Sherrard, 27, and his artistic partner Maria Valenzuela were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and resisting an officer without violence. The duo are part of the GroupSelf Collective.

In the video below, taken by a passer-by, Sherrard can be heard screaming “Fuck Art Basel” and “Fuck you pigs; get off of me,” while Valenzuela screeches. Both are wrestling on the floor with two policemen each trying to subdue them. A man towards the end of the video ponders, “You guys, is that art?”

Sherrard told the Miami Herald that he and Valenzuela were placed in a small van for four hours and transported to jail. After they each posted bail of $1,500, they were released in the early hours of Monday.

On that same evening, Sherrard was scheduled to host an event at the Space Mountain Miami gallery, where he is currently part of an exhibition.

Sherrard’s version of the events, posted to his Facebook page, is that only he and Valenzuela were involved in the incident, not the group of 30 that police claimed. He says the action started out as a performative intervention in Art Basel’s Collector Lounge. After they had finished their “anti-Art World rant” in the lounge, they attempted to pick up their checked bags in the cloakroom to leave the building, when the police “violently pounced” on them from behind.

In the statement, Sherrard also claims that he was arrested twice during the 2014 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach for “art crimes.”

Sherrard is a known artist who was recently featured in New York magazine in an article headlined “NYC’s Most Avant-Garde Nihilist Subway Performer.” Sherrard also graced the cover of New York magazine in 2011.


Go to artnet News’s Art Basel in Miami page for the latest coverage, including:

Overheard at the VIP Preview of Art Basel in Miami Beach

Art Basel in Miami Beach: The Definitive Sales Report

What To Buy? See These Top 10 Booths at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Art Basel in Miami Beach 2014 is a Rip-Roaring Success

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.