Fiery reaction to art leaves blood on the carpet

Art gallery fight over punch bag filled with blood
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The Independent Online

Modern art has often been accused of deliberately trying to be controversial but most exponents have stopped short of actually inciting violence. However, the new generation of young British artists has no such fears.

The opening of Goldsex, a collaboration between Goldsmiths' and Middlesex art colleges in London, ended in a fight after one guest took such exception to one of the exhibits that he started a punch-up.

Hugo Rittson, a curator of the show in The Loading Bay, said: "The old generation of British artists are trying to follow on from Sensation with a show called Apocalypse but we are the new wave and we are actually living the apocalypse."

The exhibit that provoked such strong reaction was a punch bag filled with pig's blood hanging in a boxing ring which, explained Tim Griffin, one of the curators, earnestly, was a comment on the nature of violence and the sport of boxing.

Unfortunately one of the guests ignored the "Do Not Touch" signs and punched it so hard it burst. Blood went everywhere, spattering the floors, the walls and even the startled bystanders, many of whom started screaming.

"This was a serious piece of art with a legitimate comment to make about violence," Mr Griffin said. "There was even a boxer at the opening and he saw at once what it was about.

"But one of the guests was annoyed by it and he became agitated. He started tapping it and then he took a swing at it and the blood just went everywhere.

"I managed to get him outside but the artist, Paul Reed, rushed to defend his work and there was a rather a kerfuffle outside." Mr Reed, who had taken refuge yesterday in the North of England to work on another exhibition, ended up needing 27 stitches.

Mr Griffin added: "From my point of view art should provoke a reaction, and that is a good thing, but we never expected it to go this far."