Critic Avelina Lésper said she accidentally shattered the installation on Saturday at the Zona Maco art fair in Mexico City when she placed an empty soda can near it to express her disdain for the piece: a sheet of glass with a stone, soccer ball and other random objects suspended inside.
The display was by Mexican artist Gabriel Rico, who contrasts objects made by humans, such as tennis balls, with objects found in nature, such as feathers and rocks.
“It was like the work heard my comment and felt what I thought of it,” Lésper said in a video statement for Milenio, a Mexican media group that publishes her columns. “The work shattered into pieces and collapsed and fell on the floor.”
Lésper said she was then told the piece was valued at $20,000.
Accident or not, the gallery displaying the work criticised Lésper’s behaviour as unprofessional.
“Lésper coming too close to the work to place a soda can on it and take a picture as criticism without a doubt caused the destruction,” OMR gallery said in a statement on Instagram.
The gallery said the critic’s behaviour showed an “enormous lack of professionalism and respect”.
OMR said Rico’s work was highly sought by collectors and art institutions at the moment.
Alfonso Miranda, director of the Soumaya art museum in Mexico, said the incident was a “tragedy”.
Others took to social media to applaud the destruction as a performance piece, and to pan the sale of art that consisted of used and found objects.
Lésper said she suggested the gallery leave the piece shattered, to show its evolution. When they rejected that idea, she said she offered to repair it.
The gallery said it would get in touch with the artist before announcing its next steps.
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