An artist named Monty Cantsin, disrupted the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum yesterday afternoon, splashing what looked like red paint against a wall and signing his name. He didn’t vandalize any art, though. Artist Laura Higgins Palmer, who was there, told Hyperallergic that the man threw red "paint" against the wall in the third floor gallery while she was taking a selfie of her reflection in Koons’s silver bunny. She noticed a man walking by with a black bag and when she turned around, he was splashing “paint” on the wall, in what appears to be a kind of double X shape. He managed to sign his name in marker underneath before being led away by security. Palmer says everyone was then evacuated from the third floor so that the wall could be repainted.
The Whitney offered the following statement:
An isolated act of vandalism occurred this afternoon at the Whitney Museum of American Art involving a blank gallery wall on the third floor of the Jeff Koons exhibition. No artwork was affected or damaged in any way. Guards quickly apprehended the individual responsible. The police were called and they removed the individual from the museum. Following standard security protocol, the third floor of the museum was closed briefly and reopened within two hours of the incident.
The artist, Monty Cantsin Amen, according to Wikipedia, is “a multiple-use name that anyone can adopt,” allegedly invented in 1978 by an artist named David Zack. “In a philosophy anticipating that of free software and open source, anyone should perform in his name and thus contribute to and participate in his fame and achievements.” The name, associated with Neoism, is a kind of subculture of parody and hoaxes; the NY Times calls it “an international anarchist art movement.”
One of the founders of Neoism, and a user of the name Monty Cantsin, is Hungarian-born Canadian performance artist Istvan Kantor. The man in the Koons photo looks a LOT like Kantor who likes to make X’s with his own blood; he’s been banned from Museum of Modern Art in New York and a host of other institutions for doing this. If so, then the vandalism at the Whitney is meant to be an X — done in blood, not red paint. According to the BBC, Kantor “tried to squeeze a capsule of blood onto Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof gallery” in 2004. Kantor denies the accusation that he was trying to vandalize the sculpture, but he doesn’t deny his crimes.
“I have always been breaking the rules of art. I call myself a ‘subvertainer’ and I consider my criminal activities the most creative part of my work. My art was always anti-establishment and anti-institutional. My attitude always questions what is the relationship between artists and the institutional art world and the need for institutions. The whole ‘Blood Campaign’ is basically an ongoing anti-institutional project.”
Kantor’s Facebook account is under the name Monty Cantsin Amen, where he wrote the following to a friend.
“I just came out of mental hospital where the police took me after the Whitney I was discharged I am free I’ll put out my Supreme gift manifesto that I handed to the museum after the intervention tomorrow now I go out for a drink in the lower east side thanks for your support Monty”
Okey dokey, so there you have it. Disruption is disruption and so is “art vandalism”. I’m not passing any judgement here, just reporting the incident. I actually share 20 friends in common with this guy on Facebook. We’ll see when I post this later, if anyone really knows him in the “real world”. Gotta go, I’m due back there now.