Selfie gone wrong or stunt? Simon Birch artwork topples at LA show after photo taker falls against pedestal support

‘Mate’ of formerly Hong Kong-based artist posts YouTube video of part of artwork toppling like a row of dominoes and claims US$200,000 damage was caused, but some viewing it are convinced it was faked to promote exhibition

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 1:58pm

Was it an accident that highlights the danger of taking selfies in an art gallery or was it a stunt by Hong Kong artist Simon Birch?

CCTV footage captured the moment when a woman visitor in a Los Angeles gallery fell against a pedestal supporting an artwork and caused the rest of the row to topple like dominoes.

The video was posted on YouTube on Thursday by “Party Pooper” , who claimed US$200,000 worth of art was “destroyed” by the careless snapper.

“Wait for it..... 0.11 is when the action happens. This took place at my mate Simon Birch’s art installation The 14th Factory in Los Angeles, when a lady tried to crouch down and pose in front of a pillar holding a sculpture to take a picture. She accidentally leant on it and the rest is history... $200,000 worth of art destroyed!” the description reads.

It has attracted more than 10,000 views and is compulsive viewing, like a car crash. Speaking of which, Birch did deliberately crash his Ferrari in the name of art.

A video of how it was done is shown in the Los Angeles exhibition, called “The 14th Factory”. He claimed the car was his last material possession and destroying it was a cleansingand enjoyable thing to do.

Birch is a painter and multimedia artist who has a fondness for spectacles. His last big show in Hong Kong was the well-received “Hope and Glory - a Conceptual Circus” in 2010.

Since then, the British-born artist has had trouble securing venues for other exhibitions and he told the South China Morning Post in 2014 that he had decided to quit Hong Kong after 17 years.

Simon Birch, 17 years in Hong Kong, is taking his talents elsewhere because of red tape over exhibition spaces

A plan to show The 14th Factory in New York also failed, which eventually led him to Los Angeles. He has said in interviews that he had to sell everything he owned to fund this project.

It has taken him years to put together the ambitious showcase of videos, installations, sculptures, paintings and performances with 20 collaborators. According to the official website, the show takes up three acres of an empty industrial warehouse.

Viewers of the video were not entirely sympathetic, however. A number of commentators said they were convinced it was faked to promote the exhibition.

Faked or not, “Party Pooper” seized the opportunity to promote the “one of its kind” show. “Go visit before it closes end of July (or before a few more pieces break)”, the post said.