Why Maximo Caminero's Ai Weiwei "Protest" Was Stupid

Categories: Art

Via Miami Dade Corrections
Maxinmo Caminero faces felony charges for his stupid actions.
I paid the $12 admission, and the lady at the counter told me: "Galleries three and four are closed for the next hour or so." OK. Minor inconvenience. I had last been at Pérez Art Museum Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach, when it was free for everyone, basically, and it was way too busy to really absorb what you were looking at. This was supposed to make up for that. Now I could wander around at my own pace.

As I made my way up the central staircase, I immediately noticed the Ai Weiwei exhibit was affected by the sudden closure. I was a little disappointed because, to be honest, I had returned to check out his work specifically. Instead, I headed into the Amelia Peláez exhibit.

I noticed later that part of Weiwei's exhibit, located in gallery five, was open. I made my way back into the room, peeked into roped-off galleries three and four, and noticed it: shards of colorful ceramic strewn across the floor. Security guards escorted a museum rep into gallery four -- I assume she was called in after the accident -- where she put her hands on her head as if she were panicking.

Sucks, I thought. Someone must have knocked over one of the vases. Careless accident.

The next day, I discovered that the damage was intentionally done by local artist Maximo Caminero, who got exactly what he wanted. While other artists try to achieve fame through their own merits, Caminero found another way. By destroying a piece of artwork by Ai Weiwei, an artist infinitely more prestigious than himself, he got the notoriety he was after.

See also: Visitor Smashes Ai Weiwei Vase at PAMM

It would be amazing to think Caminero was familiar with Weiwei's work, particularly Colored Vases, but some of his comments yesterday indicated he was ignorant to the meaning of the piece. Some argue Weiwei's work already destroyed priceless ancient Chinese vases, but the meaning really goes deeper than that. It's a commentary on China's rapid -- and careless -- development into a world power that has pushed cultural relics to the wayside. (See Three Gorges.)

But Caminero confessed his act wasn't premeditated and occurred to him only after he had gone through the museum. He said he was upset by the lack of Miami artists included in the museum.

In reality, Caminero is just an asshole. Follow me as I poke several holes in his assertion that PAMM doesn't support local artists, along with the consequences of his actions.

See also: Miami Artist Destroyed $1M Ai Weiwei Vase Because PAMM "Only Displays International Artists"


Caminero put PAMM's reputation in jeopardy.
While Pérez Art Museum Miami has existed in some form since 1984, the museum achieved notoriety only last December. How is a 2-month-old institution supposed to explain such a careless mishap to artists and visiting exhibitions? Moving forward, there will be whispers in the art world as to whether works of art will be safe at PAMM. These things happen and works are insured, but regardless, nobody wants to see their hard work damaged. Weiwei's vase was valued at $1 million, but in reality, it was priceless. There's no recovering that.

There's been some argument that because of Weiwei's history of smashing historical urns and vases, he'd probably get a kick out of Caminero's stunt. Not so much. In a statement to the New York Times, Weiwei said, "The argument does not support the act... If he really had a point, he should choose another way, because this will bring him trouble to destroy property that does not belong to him." If those vases are meant to be broken, it's up to Weiwei -- not Caminero -- to decide when and where.

An Edouard Duval-Carrié exhibit is coming up.
I wonder if Caminero knows PAMM's next major exhibit will highlight the work of Edouard Duval-Carrié, a Haitian-born, Miami-based artist. Doubtful, because Caminero's stunt seems to be all about him. Funny thing is, on April 18, the museum will also debut a new exhibition called "Caribbean: Crossroads of the World," which will showcase two centuries' worth of work by Caribbean artists -- you know, something Dominican-born Caminero could probably relate to.

PAMM does support local artists.
Caminero's claim that PAMM doesn't support local artists is bullshit. The museum's permanent collection includes work by the likes of Naomi Fisher, Susan Lee-Chun, Bhakti Baxter, and many others. While their work didn't get the headliner treatment at PAMM like Weiwei, their works can be found throughout the auxiliary galleries. In fact, on my last visit, "Miami-born, Miami-based artist" was easily found among the biographies on the displays.

Location Info


Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: General

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What you all aren't taking into account is that the pots were in front of an image of Ai Weiwei breaking a vessel. It isn't a far leap to act in the moment and do the same. In fact its quite logical to many artists. I argue that the image was directing people to do the same whether Ai Weiwei intended this to happen or not. Art is an experiment even if it has significant meaning about your country's political nature or your level of fame. Art can call people to act. Caminero was responding to the piece, I can appreciate that. 

frankd4 topcommenter

.....................okay so MAXIMO will serve jail time and the PAMM gift shop will sell the broken shard pieces for a profit

NOW is everyone happy ?


This man is a total imbecile. I refuse to say his name and give him more notoriety, by the way. How would he like it if someone came to one of his installations and cut up a painting, as a self-styled "protest?" I'm sure he wouldn't care for it. He has no right to destroy the work of another artist.

I can only imagine that this was nothing more than a calculated, self-aggrandizing stunt in order to drum up some publicity and receive fifteen minutes worth of fame. He should be shunned and treated as the infantile personality that he so clearly is. Let him learn that there are other ways to create publicity. Or, if this was a genuine protest, there are more constructive and proper ways to give voice to one's opinions.

The Golden Rule seems to be fading further with each passing day in contemporary society.

Ofelia Barber
Ofelia Barber

He should pay for the property he destroyed.

EzƦă VɅǹ
EzƦă VɅǹ

"Ai Weiwei, Coloured Vases, 2011 consists of groups of Han dynasty pots (206 BCE–220 AD) coated by Ai in industrial paint as a comment on the destruction of cultural and historical values that took place during the Cultural Revolution" The irony was that they were already destroyed by the artist. That was the point of the exhibit. I have a feeling we are getting sucked into a publicity stunt.

frankd4 topcommenter

......................otherwise truth is PAMM is not an important museum and wei wei may not be the important work from china once other artists currently under communist threat become public with their works which may exclipse wei wei in the future

PAMM is a facility designed to draw attention to the area TO SELL CONDOs = period

PEREZ is not an important ART collector and is only interested a la theDonald in gaining notoriety to himself and his developments for profit = period

MIAMI museums are more party-oriented than ART-oriented with all of them simply prostetuting their facilities more as showrooms for consumer products and services than ART

one day PEREZ wei wei PAMM and MIAMI may indeed be important ART entities BUT that day hasn't come yet and it may never come = period

Fenix Rising
Fenix Rising

No one has the right to destroy anything.

frankd4 topcommenter

....................IF this guy takes MIAMI as his territory which he is defending against intruders,  it's not any different than the entitlement many many hispanic visitors and guests have over MIAMI, as it exists today

IF this guy fueled by strong coffee an a quick unfiltered reaction is typical of many many here in SoFla my guess is he will eventually feel very bad about his poor decision and as it is he will most likely serve jail time

as for the ART it will bring in a level of attention and notoriety which it may or may not deserve but that's another story

Patrick Garcia
Patrick Garcia

This article is making a lot of assumptions and isn't written in a neutral tone at all. Sounds more like a grudge. Haha. Doesn't painting all over an ancient vase constitute as "destroying" it already?

Jeffrey Knight
Jeffrey Knight

Agreed. Caminero is a grandstander. A Wynwood gallery owner backed up these arguments on Ch. 7 the other day. Numerous facilities are available to display artworks in South Florida. And, IMHO, the majors and minors who display only local works wouldn't remain open a year.


It's the New Times -- hardly an unbiased news organization, but that's the point.  As for destroying the artifacts, you could absolutely make that argument, but there is PURPOSE behind the action to make it art (and arguably add value to the pieces).  This guy is just a butthurt douche, plain and simple.

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