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Natali Cohen Vaxberg (screenshot via YouTube)

Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.

Authorities Wipe Out Poop-Slinging Artist

Performance artist Natali Cohen Vaxberg is expected to be charged with five counts of desecrating the Israeli flag over a video she uploaded to the internet in 2014 in which she defecated on the country’s flag. The video, titled “Shit Instead of Blood,” shows Vaxberg in her bathroom defecating on the flags of various countries.

Verdict: Even within the subgenre of scatalogical art, this video is really crappy.

Stolen Corb Seats Could Spell Diplomatic Disaster

Thieves stole 15 chairs and one table designed by Le Corbusier from a storeroom at the Chandigarh College of Arts just days before the visit of French President François Hollande. While in the Indian city of Chandigarh, whose master plan Le Corbusier designed, Hollande will visit several sites associated with the legendary Swiss-French architect.

Verdict: Franco-Indian relations may never recover.

Unauthorized Graffiti Backdrop Not Cool, Kiesza

Jamie Hef’s murals in the backdrop of Kiesza’s “Hideaway” video (screenshot via YouTube)

Graffiti artist Jamie Mitchel Kosse — better known as Jamie Hef — is suing singer Kiesza and the Universal Music Group for using several of his murals in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as backdrops for the pop star’s “Hideaway” video without licensing the work.

Verdict: Here’s hoping Universal does the right thing and pays Hef a hefty fee.

Thieving Arsonists Strike Historic Church

Twelve artifacts turned up missing after a fire at the Church of Saint-Louis in Fontainebleau, France, which was ruled to have been an act of arson. The lost objects, which were either destroyed in the fire or stolen, include a wooden sculpture of Mary and infant Jesus from the 14th century and the church’s main altar, from the 17th century.

Verdict: The thieves better put that altar to good use and start praying.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy Sherman, and other divisive issues have...

3 replies on “Crimes of the Art”

  1. Graffiti is artwork put on public or private buildings, ordinarily without permission, in order to share them with the public domain. To enact them is to put them on public display, sometimes at personal risk. No? is that not the spirit of graffiti, am I crazy? You could paint the same piece on a canvas and much more carefully control its dissemination.

    The artist wants to charge them for filming in front of the space? For disseminating the works she or he left outside for the public to see? I always want to support other artists, but I think there’s more to think about here. Is there a longer precedence of cases like this?

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