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Vandalism as Art: Does Breaking a Window Count as Art?

Can vandalism be art? Can breaking a window be considered as art? That is the thesis of Kevin Harman, who filmed himself smashing an art gallery's window (he notified the gallery beforehand, but refused to reveal the date and time he'd actually do it).

Artists seem to agree with him, as many of them are offended that the director of the art gallery, Kate Gray, whose window got smashed took the artist to court:

"They should have shaken his hand and bought him a drink," declared Royal Academician Michael Sandle. Edinburgh art guru Richard Demarco, whose foundation recently awarded Harman a £2,000 scholarship, described the gallery's action as "intensely regrettable", and the artist as "a serious, hard-working and gifted person".

Gray was unavailable for comment, as was the Edinburgh College of Art, where Harman is in the second year of a master's course. It is understood that several of his tutors had been supportive of the project, which was initially labelled Brick. The scaffolding pole was substituted as a safer option.

The student, who has a piece in the current show of the Royal Scottish Academy, explained that he was less distressed by the fine than by the Collective's dismissal of his work as "vandalism", as the charge sheet put it. "There have got to be serious questions asked of their position as arbiters of art," he told the Guardian.

What do you think? Can vandalism be art? If so (like, for example, graffiti), where do you draw the line? Link (with video of the incident)

Previously on Neatorama: Soap Not Spray Can: Reverse Graffiti Art


Interestingly false dichotomy. Just like graffiti, It can be both art and vandalism. I say that the courts should determine whether or not it is vandalism and the academics figure out if it is art.

I think that it is not art so much as a violent publicity stunt.
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How on earth is this a serious question? If you film a rape and call it pornography, does that make it okay? How about calling terrorism free speech? Shoplifting? Where does it end?

What is wrong with you? You wouldn't be asking such as stupid question if it happened to you. Only a sheltered child could ever have so much free time and be so disconnected with reality as to even consider such lunacy.
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@ozoozol - if anything can be art, simply by labeling it art, then what IS art?

Like Robert Frost said about free verse, it's like playing tennis with the net down.

Art is art's worst enemy.
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I believe that if you damage some-one else's property (be it private, corporate or government) by whatever means, then you deserve whatever legal consequences come your way.
Would you be happy if this was your home that had it's windows smashed in?
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This is stupid. It won't be too long before someone murders another person, slops their blood and innards all over a canvas and calls it art and then bitches when they are arrrested for it.
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Art is a form of expression, of communication. Graffiti communicates, often eloquently. I am at a loss as to what non-communicative art like this is supposed to mean.

What did Oliver Wendall Holmes say? "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."

I agree it can be art and vandalism, but in this case I would say it is about 80% or more vandalism.
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Burning Man has this problem every year - people vandalize other peoples are and think it's art... or at least 'free expression'. The bottom line is, if it isn't yours and you don't have permission, don't mess with it. Go do your 'art' somewhere else. Destruction of art is not art, destruction of property is not art. We are not in Afghanistan making artists!
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If it's art is debatable I guess.

However, it is vandalism. And as that is against the law, he should be prosecuted. He's just lucky that being a pretentious d-bag isn't also against the law.
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Oh, it's a publicity stun alright, as mentioned above.

In any case, this is ultimately what you get when everything is "art." Breathing is art. Tying your shoes is art, and so on. When it's all art, then nothing is art, and "art," the word, no longer has any meaning, because it has nothing to describe.
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@Alex: Beats me. I don't think there is any universal method for determining what does or does not qualify. Like beauty and taste, it's an aesthetic--all relative, and all subjective.
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#17 Art... you hit it on the head buddy.

This is just a load of bullcrap IMO. I hate these so called "artists" that do shit like this. It's pointless and no, I don't consider it art.
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I'm going to punch this guy in the face and call it art. Then I'm going to get a £2,000 scholarship and have Michael Sandle shake my hand and buy me a drink. If he refuses, I'll turn his nose into art.
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Genius. Checkout Collective Gallery "mission statement" about promoting debate etc... KH used them to take it to the line. Neat mobius! Google KH and you'll see how much debate he's generated.Art? Vandalism? Not the end game... Genius...
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Gauldar- "Like I said, if it pisses someone off, it's probably art."

Long live the Art of War!!!!

- With Word Wars 1 and 2 as the Ultimum in this particular form of Art....
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So Kate Gray who windows got smashed had her office prob made into a mess and inconvenience and cost as the window ws replaced and the mess cleared up - also the disruption.

I would have fined him AND given him community service rather than give this twat money for being a dick.

NOT art - now if he had built a window frame IN the display area and then smashed it in front of people it could be performance art.

This is just property destruction he is a cock.
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I paid for the window, £350.. the glass was replaced within 25 min, the glazer was waiting outside.
Go to my website and read the letters under the title "Brick", you will get a better idea of what this work set out to do.
Have a Smashing Chrimbo everyone.

Best Cheers

kevin
kevinharman.co.uk
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Just by claiming that something is art, doesnt give you the right do to it free and clear and somehow not have to pay the price.

Whats next? "oh, yes i beat him with a bat, but its art" "i killed him as ART!" Its 'artists' like this that make all other artists seem like crackpots and weirdos, people who throw paint at a wall and demand 5 grand for it.

It actually offends me that these sorts of people do this sort of thing and then scream 'its art' when people disagree, it just so happens that in this case he was also breaking the law. Just because you claim that something is art neither makes it art, nor okay for you to do as you please.
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I don't like how the question was framed, "vandalism" is a loaded word. Let's say "destructive act" and yes, of course it can be art. It's not terribly original, but if he says it's art then it's art.

Deconstructionists, cut-up artists, graffiti artists, ready-mades, artists making cracks in the floor of The Turbine Room, artists filling the space with shredded phone books and lying there, artists urinating on stage as part of their stage act...etc, etc.

This is old hat and a storm in a teacup. It's not very good art but it's certainly art.
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@Burt Mackentire & MadMolecule & DJ_NME & Glibble Plok

LOL
I love the hysterical housewife flank of Neatorama. Where any question, however restrained, can be parried with the deft use of:
"!!1!!1 OH YEah, how'd u like if he wuz raping YOUR childerns!!1"

Oh, and to anyone irritated by the fact that the definition of "art" has been thrown wide open in the last 100 years or so, if art is not simply whatever someone does with an artistic intent or claims is art, then what is it?
How should it be defined and who should be allowed to define it? Should all of us cast votes each time? Or just the people in the area where the alleged art is being committed?
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Here's Wikipedia's take on it
"Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions."

Encyclopedia Britannica:
"a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination."

He deliberately arranged that shopfront from an unbroken glass window into a pile of glass shards thereby forming a visual experience. To consider that as art took some (although limited) imagination. And the baboon-grunts of "HOW WOULD HE FEEL IF I CAME AND PUNCHED HIS MOM IN THE OVARIES" (paraphrased) has proven that it certainly elicited an emotional response.
= ART

Case closed.
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@people: I didn't say it's not art. Of course it's art. It's also needlessly confrontational and ultimately self-defeating. It can be those things and be art at the same time. (And you're not going to get a "case closed" with a short definition of art from an encyclopedia.)

@Kevin Harman: Thank you for chiming in here. But I don't think the fact that you immediately paid to have the window replaced turns this into effective art. I'm a lawyer, but I'm also a filmmaker, and in my view such confrontational tactics almost never create effective communication. It's like trying to teach someone calculus by screaming in their face.
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@Varjak: Well, shoot, if you expect me to go reading and stuff, how am I supposed to leap to conclusions?

In that case, I'll amend my earlier statement to:

I don't get it.
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So, it's okay if I tell you in advance that I'm oging to break your stuff? And if I pay someone to fix it when I break your stuff? What if I just don't want my stuff broken at all?

To use my rape analogy, since it's so provocative (and can hence be classed as Art), it's okay to rape a woman if you threaten her with it in advance, and then promise to pay for the abortion afterwards.
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Michael Sandle and Richard Demarco are actually just po-mo posers. They pay lip service to radical art, but they're actually a pair of Philistines: obviously arresting Harman was a bleeding-edge artistic statement.
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No, it's not art, it's the opposite in fact. The "artists" who support this guys are more than likely to be no-talent art-school fraudsters as well. I'd concentrate on the damage: who allowed it? Who's paying for it? Who will the owners/patrons hold accountable for this mess?
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@Graystone2000

You speak truth.

@Kevin

Please go back to art school, one that knows what it is talking about. You are utter rubbish. It's because of people like you that art no longer means anything. It used to mean the conveyance of a thought or emotion, now it just means doing stupid things to get attention. It matters not if you paid (or didn't) for the window you broke. Proper art requires skill and thought to execute. You just broke something and are now angry that people are laughing at you.
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I'm not going to address whether or not this qualifies as art, but I'd like to say those who compare breaking a window to rape need to reevaluate a few things.
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so "people":
if your face was deliberately altered with a fist, its art?

I think not.

don't be so pretentious, you'll have more friends.
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Stuff like this is why I have lost all faith in the conceptual/preformance art movement. I had this stuff piled on me during my 4 years in art school, and I still can't for the life of me understand how we have let the meaning of the word "art" fall so far.

This isn't art. This is somebody who is using "art" as an excuse to smash a window. That's a load of garbage. And I'm sorry, but comparing this to graphiti is almost insulting to graphiti artists. Saying that a well-executed graphiti mural is in the same league as smashing an art gallery window is like saying that body painting is the same thing as punching someone in the face.

Any artist who sides with this guy is as much of a quack and bullshit "artist" as he is.
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@MadMolecule

Having had a closer look at his website and that oh-so-clever thesaurus-impaired statement I think we're in agreement. Yes, it's some kind of art but as art it's absolute horrible rubbish.
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@Avery

Read the previous comments, paying particular attention to the one supposedly by the artist himself and you'll get an answer to your question:
"Who's paying for it? Who will the owners/patrons hold accountable for this mess?"
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@edc3
"if your face was deliberately altered with a fist, its art?"

Please see my previous comment:
"I love the hysterical housewife flank of Neatorama. Where any question, however restrained, can be parried with the deft use of:
"!!1!!1 OH YEah, how'd u like if he wuz raping YOUR childerns!!1""

Which I will now amend to:
"!!1!!1 OH YEah, how'd u like if he wuz punching youz in da faces, huh?!!1""
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@Lisa
"Stuff like this is why I have lost all faith in the conceptual/preformance art movement."

I'm genuinely curious, at which point did you lose interest? What kind of conceptual art do you like? Any particular artist?
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