By BROOKE RUDISILL
Many were left to question whether or not they were caught in the middle of a performance art exhibit or a bloody crime scene last Friday night at Art Basel in Miami Beach. 24-year-old New Yorker Siyuan Zhao was one of many in attendance at the highly anticipated art fair and was quickly perceived as one of the artists as the night carried on.
With the use of an X-Acto knife, Zhao stabbed and sliced a woman who approached her in her arms and neck after being accused of following and bumping into her. Considering this transgression happened in the middle of Art Basel’s main exhibition space in the Miami Beach Convention Center, many assumed that it was just part of a performance in the art exhibit.
“In installation and performance art, the lines of art and reality are always blurred,” said Kip Miller, professor of digital art and design. “A real attempt at murder is often reenacted in different ways to portray life in a philosophical way. In this case, it was a real attempt of murder and misunderstood as art.”
According to many theories in the study of art, attraction- repulsion is a common way that artists capture the attention of their viewers, recreating gory moments within their work. In this case, many bystanders assumed that it was fake blood coming out of the victim.
“This is a real example of life imitating art,” said Miller.
Many artists believe that life imitates art, as well as art imitating life. It is a constant debate on how art and real life events are connected with one another. Whether or not Zhao tried to, she left her own form of art that night by stabbing the young woman in front of an audience.
“After I heard there was a stabbing, I was on high alert during my walks around Wynwood Walls at Art Basel on Saturday,” said Tyler P. Babcock, senior. “I think it’s absurd that people can mistake a stabbing for imitational art. If this happened at any other place than an art fair, bystanders would not have questioned the attack.”
Zhao has since been charged with attempted murder and is held on a $25,000 bail.