In 1974, art dealer Tony Shafrazi spray-painted Picasso's Guernica, which hung in the Museum of Modern Art, with the words "KILL LIES ALL" (probably a typo in the heat of the moment). It is believed that Shafrazi was protesting something or other and as a result, America lost the painting to Spain. In 2006 a man tripped over his shoelace at Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum in the U.K. and proceededto fall down a staircase, colliding with three 300-year-old Chinese vases and shattering them. In January of 2010 Pablo Picasso's Rose period painting The Actor was damaged when a woman fell off her heels at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York creating a six-inch gash. In January 2012, a Denver woman, drunk, dragged her naked bottom against a Clyfford Still painting worth $30 million, punched it, slid down against it and with a final flourish, urinated on herself. On Febuary 25, 2012, a far less sinister 15 year-old inadvertently knocked over a Tracey Emin multiple at my kid’s curated show and it didn’t get damaged, but made it into 2 major newspaper and a BBC radio talk show.
The talk of the town is how could I have let a hoard of wild children run loose at a gallery filled with art and permit this mishap to occur, which only happened in the last minutes of a 5-hour opening. Did someone forget about the slaughtering going on in Syria or Iran’s imminent deployment of nuclear weapons? I guess teens coming together and presenting an art exhibit with their peers side by side with professional artists doesn’t make for much news—and you wonder why the model of being famous for being an asshole is so widely embraced the world over. Here is a perfect example of negative reinforcement that when something lousy happens (with no mal intent), you are plastered all over the press and celebrated.
On the BBC they described the show as practically an all night rave—there were rather 3 small, innocuous bands made up of kids and an adult group, all civilized to a fault. I was asked if this incident would put off more parents and children from undertaking similar activities to this, as if there are 1000 like-minded families gearing up to co-curate contemporary art exhibits. Then I was questioned how my kids would make the money for restitution to cover damage, to which I replied they could begin by selling some of the paintings in the show. I am sorry but my kids and their friends took a big risk displaying the art made with much passion in such a context, and it was a great outcome and experience working with them all towards this goal. If not for the gallery and their art endeavors what else is there to do in London? Go to the mall, or worse (if there is something as bad as Westfield).
I even had to defend myself at last night’s Teacher – Parents’ Meetings, discussing more this negligible art affair then the performance of my children at school. Maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. What this has taught me is only to tone it down on fb as the newspapers swooped onto my page and printed some less than flattering comments I made about the situation—not the most pleasant reality test. And I understand the artist is not amused by the publicity, which reminds me of a now seemingly prophetic photo I made in 2006. Finally that this episode should not go totally to waste, some enterprising chap sent me the following email. Out of every mishap comes some way forward…for someone to figure out how to make a buck off it.
Dear Mr Schachter,
I hope you don’t mind the direct approach, only after reading in the Evening Standard about an incident at your gallery, albeit accidental, I wondered if you would be reviewing your security staff supplier?
I am the Director of Celebrity Protection Ltd (CPL), based in London we specialise in providing security services to the Entertainment and Arts Industries. With many years’ experience and customer satisfaction we believe we offer a service second to none. I have attached our company brochure which includes client references should the above be of interest, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss further.
Many thanks for your time.
CPL Security Ltd
Tel: 020 7561 0101
image: the fear