The destruction of the Red Maze

Stanley Donwood’s latest show came to an abrupt end last weekend, when it was comprehensively looted by visitors

Stanley Donwood’s latest show came to an abrupt end last weekend, when it was comprehensively looted by visitors…

The action was endorsed by Donwood himself, of course, who first ensured his paintings were rescued, but that everything else left within his Red Maze – on show at Schunck* in Heerlen, in The Netherlands – was up for grabs as part of a sanctioned Looting event.

That included the majority of the printed work that had been stuck to the walls of the structure and also the maze itself, which was made of panels of wood and corrugated metal. From the film of the looting, fans of Donwood’s art were clearly undeterred by these larger pieces, though were helped in their scavenging by various red-overalled workers armed with hammers and drills. (Eliza originally blogged about the show, here)

“I had decided to try to get people to think about the fragility of cultural ettiquette, and about how delicate and precious culture is,” writes Donwood on his Slowly Downward site. “I had decided to try to get people to understand this concept by allowing them to loot my exhibition.”

“When the Looting had started I was almost too scared to go and see what it looked like, but really, I had to,” Donwood continues. “When else could I see something like that? But what I noticed first was the sound. Down there in the Red Maze was the rasp and chirr of paper being pulled from walls, the ripping and tearing, and the unusual excited murmuring sound of many people still not entirely sure that they were getting something for nothing. Well, almost nothing. The looters had been told that they really should put some money in a box; I was collecting for charity, you see; a charity that tried to undo the damage done by looting. The irony was only just becoming apparent to me at this very late stage.”

Donwood also writes that while the show had taken 13 hours to staple and paste up in preparation for its destruction, and the maze itself had taken seven days to build and paint red, the looting apparently took less than 45 minutes.

Stanley said I could have this one… honest

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