A Miami artist shocked the art world this week when he deliberately destroyed a $1 million Ai Weiwei vase on exhibit at the Pérez Art Museum. Artist Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief for destroying the Chinese dissident’s artwork in protest of what he perceived as a lack of local artist representation at the museum. In an official statement, the museum denounced the incident as an act of vandalism and rebutted Caminero’s argument by highlighting the various local artists it had on display.

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Police say Caminero walked into Ai Weiwei’s “According to What?” exhibition on Sunday and smashed the vase; the incident was also captured on camera. The vase was part of the “Colored Vases” collection of 16 repainted Han dynasty urns that date back to over 2,000 years. Caminero, who was unfamiliar with the work he destroyed, told the Miami New Times he “thought it was a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot” and expressed his regrets after learning of its value.

Caminero says that his act of protest was inspired by Ai’s “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn,” which depicts Ai dropping a Han Dynasty urn to draw attention to the government’s everyday desecration of Chinese heritage. In an interview with CNN, however, Ai did not condone Caminero’s destruction and said the two acts were different, especially since the urns were in Ai’s property. “My work is basically forbidden to be shown in China,” says Ai. “The protest itself may be valid but to damage somebody’s work to do that is questionable.”

Though Ai might not agree with Caminero’s tactics, he adds that he isn’t too concerned over the destruction of his work. He told The New York Times: “I’m OK with it, if a work is destroyed. A work is a work. It’s a physical thing. What can you do? It’s already over.”

Via NY Times

Images via PAMM