Art | December 4, 2021 12:07 pm

Performance Art in Miami Beach Draws Outsized Police Response

The work was performed as part of the Satellite Art Show

Miami Beach
Miami Beach, seen from the air.
Antonio Cuellar/Unsplash

This week brought with it Art Basel Miami Beach, along with a host of other art fairs in the greater Miami area. For art fans and collectors, the events offer a way to get a sense of the contemporary art world and the range of disciplines and media that artists are currently working on. Unfortunately, one artist taking part in the Satellite Art Fair found himself surrounded by police and, according to his account of the exchange, threatened by a police helicopter as he sought to complete a performance.

The artist in question is Xxavier Edward Carter, and the performance in question is titled Sisyphus and the Myth of the New World. The performance involves Carter standing naked on a beach and using a baseball bat to hit rocks into the ocean. A report by Valentina Di Liscia at Hyperallergic goes into more detail about what happened when Carter attempted to do this in Miami Beach.

The article includes video shot of Carter’s performance and its several interruptions. The first came from a beach patrol, who showed up five minutes in and asked that Carter put some clothing on. He agreed to do so, put on a pair of shorts, and continued his performance. You’d think that would be an easy solution to a problem — in other words, Carter can continue with his work and the beach patrol doesn’t have to worry about a naked person on the beach any more.

Then five police officers showed up. Then more police officers showed up, plus one public safety officer.

“They said if anyone with a kid complained about it, they could hold me for endangering a child, for sexual misconduct, and I’d have a ten year sentence,” Carter later told Hyperallergic. According to Carter, one of the police officers also indicated a helicopter overhead and suggested that it was one the scene as a response to his actions.

Curator Quinn Dukes told Hyperallergic that she was threatened with prison time as well. All told, the article gives the sense of a wildly disproportionate police response to a situation that was seemingly resolved by the time police actually arrived on the scene.