I’m the artist that followed up your “hungry artist” performance with a performance of my own, (on December 8th), using lipstick on the wall where “Comedian” once hung. As I’m sure you know, I was arrested for my efforts, which created a memorable performance, and a brand new piece of visual art for the world to contemplate.
Tomorrow, I will be arraigned in a Miami court for creating these works of art where you previously created your highly respected piece.
Sadly, there are those who have said your consumption of “Comedian” amounted to the destruction of private property worth $120,000. It has even been suggested that art of this nature is merely a front for the wealthy to hide their financial assets, and this was nothing more than a publicity stunt or hoax to artificially increase the perceived value of a work which is merely “an idea.” Of course, the Perrotin Gallery disagreed with this notion, and decided not to press charges against you. Naturally, they believed you had made a new work, and they made a statement saying that art was the idea, and so no harm was done.
Likewise, no damage was done by my performance piece and visual creation. At the time of my performance, a representative of the gallery said that they wouldn’t press charges against me. What is troubling, is that when I have reached out to Perrotin, they have ignored me.
Without the gallery, or someone like yourself speaking out on my behalf, I will be put on trial. As a result, a judge or a jury may be put in a position to legally decide what is and what isn’t art. Not only would this establish precedent for artists like ourselves in the future, it might put the Miami Beach Police in a position where they would have to open an investigation into you and the Perrotin Gallery.
The personal injustice I suffered being put in shackles, and being forced to sleep on a cold prison bunk is certainly nothing like the injustices Ai Weiwei has suffered— nor those branded as “degenerate artists” by Adolph Hitler. But, if you and the art world choose to turn your collective backs on me tomorrow, you must ask yourself what will happen to you or the next artist who is put in this position?
I expect to rack up substantial expenses traveling back and forth to court, and fighting this legal battle, will be a Sisyphusian task. But it is a battle I am willing to fight— not just for myself— but so that if Marcel Duchamp were to walk into Art Basel next year, he would not be ashamed of his legacy. Of course, I have known from the moment I was put in handcuffs that this was also a part of the performance.
So, the question becomes, what is your part now? Will you speak up, or will you hang your head?
Do you have any statement that you wish me to share with the court, or future artists of the world?
I am cc’ing Perrotin on this message.
I hope you are well.
Update: it was suggested that Art Basel itself might be responsible for the legal actions, so I reached out to them. Here’s the letter:
Hi. My name is Rod Webber. I am the artist who was arrested on Dec. 8th for contributing a work of art to the Perrotin Gallery with lipstick. I am being arraigned tomorrow for this “art crime.” I was told by Perrotin Gallery they would not press charges. I have not heard back from them or David Datuna, so I can only guess that Art Basel is behind these punitive measures. I have written a letter to David outlining why this is all nonsense, and will set legal precedent for artists in the future. Not speaking up for me will result in a judge or jury deciding what art is. I hope you will speak up. Here is a link to the letter: