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Artist Destroys Million Dollar Vase In A Protest To Call Attention To Local Artists

Maximo Caminero, a Miami-based artist, smashed an incredibly valuable vase created by artist Ai Weiwei in protest of what he viewed as the Pérez Art Museum Miami's unfair focus on international artists over local ones.

Posted on February 18, 2014, at 1:36 p.m. ET

Miami-based artist Maximo Caminero has been charged with criminal mischief after walking into the Pérez Art Museum Miami and breaking a vase made by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which was valued at one million dollars.

According to Caminero, the act was in protest, saying that he “did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums [there].”

He went on to say that “they [the museum] have spent so many millions now on international artists. It's the same political situation over and over again. I've been here for 30 years and it's always the same."

Caminero has confirmed that he was inspired to smash the vase by one of Weiwei’s own photography series, “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.”

Though he claims not to have known the cost of the Neolithic vase beforehand, Caminero has admitted his admiration for his fellow artist. A similar work of Weiwei's sold for $156,325 in London in 2007.

Weiwei told the BBC that at first he didn’t pay much attention, but said that breaking the vase for attention “did not support [Caminero's] argument.”

When asked about his own work that inspired Caminero, he said that it was different because the vase’s belonged to him. According to the NY Times, Weiwei said that he’s “O.K. 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.”

Weiwei is no stranger to protest, having been arrested in 2011 and consistently harassed by the Chinese government for his provocative artwork. You can hear his whole interview concerning the destruction of his work here:

View this video on YouTube

Some local artists have come out in support of Caminero. Sergio Garcia, a 54-year-old Cuban-born artist, said that he supports drawing focus toward the local community of artists rather than the international.

Emilio Martinez, an artist originally from Honduras, believes that Weiwei should sympathize with Caminero, saying that “Ai [Weiwei] has undergone his own political struggles against his government and that is what Maximo [Caminero] has done through his actions.”

You can see some of Maximo Caminero's artwork here and more of Ai Weiwei's artwork here.