Thursday, August 16The Voice of London

Woman Stabbed At Art Basel, Witnesses Thought It Was Performance Art

An altercation between two women at Art Basel in Miami escalated into a serious stabbing incident on Friday night. Onlookers said they were confused at first, as they believed it was performance art.

Words: Bea Renshaw, Subeditor: Keziah Leary 

A scuffle between two vistors at Art Basel in Miami Beach, progressed into a serious stabbing incident. It took place at around 5:15pm last Friday in the main room of an exhibition, where the victim confronted her attacker. She claimed that she’d been followed and repeatedly bumped in to. The attacker, who has been identified as 24 year old Siyuan Zhao, responded by pulling out an X-Acto knife, before stabbing the victim in her arms and neck.

The victim was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and the suspect was taken into custody. Whilst she was being arrested, Zhao told police officers “I had to kill her and two more!” and “I had to watch her bleed!”

Art Basel Miami Beach is the extension of the annual contemporary art fair in Basel, Switzerland, and is extremely popular. Visitors were apparently confused by the stabbing, mistaking it for performance art – some even started taking photos before they realised it wasn’t staged.  The area was quickly cordoned off with police tape, which some people thought was part of the installation. An artist at the exhibition, Naomi Fisher said: “A guy walked up to me and said, ‘I thought I saw a performance, and I thought it was fake blood, but it was real blood’. It’s horrible… I’m so freaked out.”


Gregg Hill, a sculptor visiting from New York, told the Miami Herald: “I thought a piece of art fell on her. I never would have thought there would be a stabbing at Art Basel… People didn’t really know what had happened. It was calm and everyone was milling around and talking.”

The Herald also reports that Art Basel had increased security measures following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, so quickly responded to the incident. Sara Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for the exhibition centre said: “The attack was an isolated incident. Our thoughts are with the victim.”