If verisimilitude is one of the goals of art, then last week’s stabbing at Art Basel in Miami Beach has to be a high point in art history.
New Yorker Siyuan Zhao, a tiny, childlike 24-year-old Asian woman, was following her victim, 33-year-old Shin Seo Young, around the Miami Beach Convention Center, intentionally bumping into her. Eventually, they quarreled. Zhao pulled out an X-Acto knife and slashed her victim in the neck and arms. Luckily, X-Acto knives are far more suited for collage than for deadly assault, our first clue that the perpetrator must be an artist.
“I had to kill her and two more,” Zhao told cops as she was arrested. “I had to watch her bleed.”
Event attendees told the the Herald the two women scrapped near an installation called “The Swamp of Sagittarius” by Miami artist Naomi Fisher.
“A guy walked up to me and said, ‘I thought I saw a performance, and I thought it was fake blood, but it was real blood,’” said Fisher. Other patrons believed the police tape cordoning off an area of the convention center was part of an art installation.
A review published the day before the attack tells us:
“The ‘Swamp of Sagittarius’ safe haven is a Hidden Bar in the NOVA Section of the Convention Center and you can sniff your way there by following the smell of essential oils that they used to infuse large rectangular wax sculptures. The work is both performative and a service to those who come by, and most importantly, Wara explains, ‘It’s about wisdom.’
“The two [Fisher’s friends, not the victim and perp] wanted to bring ‘Astro-driven Forecasting Solutions for Contemporary Art’ to this largest annual U.S. art market by offering individual astrological readings by two of their talented and trained friends…”
If I paid money for that, I might want to stab someone, too.
But never mind that. When artwork is mistaken for trash and people think assaults are art, then contemporary artists have blurred the line between reality and art more successfully than even trompe-l’œil painting. My hat is off to them.