2. Now, we get the news that "Maximo Caminero, a well-known local painter," walked into the room (which is at the Pérez Art Museum Miami), picked up one of the vases and let it drop, and "I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here. They have spent so many millions now on international artists. It's the same political situation over and over again. I've been here for 30 years and it's always the same." We're told the vase was worth $1 million, but Caminero says he didn't know that and feels "so sorry about it, for sure."
3. But Caminero also suggests that he perceived an interactive display, with the photographs intended to convey Ai Weiwei's message that they should follow his example and, as in the photographs, drop a vase and break it, and this seems to make sense in light of the apparent cheap crappiness of the vases out there unprotected on the floor:
"It was a spontaneous protest... I was at PAMM and saw Ai Weiwei's photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest. If you saw the vases on display and the way they were painted there was no way one would think the artist had painted over an ancient artifact... Instead I thought it was a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot, frankly.... I lifted the Vase and let it smash on the floor like WeiWei did in his picture then waited for authorities peacefully and never resisted punishment.... But honestly I had no idea the vase had any value. I admire Ai Weiwei greatly and have always supported his actions while he was suffering indignities from the Chinese government."4. Ai Weiwei presents the vases as dating back to "China's Neolithic period, making them anywhere from 5,500 to 7,000 years old, and have been dipped in cheap, garishly colored industrial paint." Could this possibly be true? Would he wreck ancient vases like that? The linked story says: "Given the historical context, Ai's vandalistic alterations to the vases makes for a stirring and visually striking metaphor for the conflict between East and West, a conflict between culture and commercialism." That's the sort of tedious text one is used to reading on cards stuck to walls in museums, but perhaps that is satire. I find it hard to believe the vases are actually ancient.
5. Whether the vases are actually ancient and whether they are individually worth $1 million...
... (and not simply easily replaceable objects in an assemblage that as a whole is worth $1 million) and whether Ai Weiwei intended to convey the message that visitors should do what he is doing in the photographs and pick up a vase and break it, isn't it believable that Caminero genuinely understood that to be the message?
6. Was it the message?