With due acknowledgement to Mr Eugenides in relation to Michael Stone’s defence ("It was performance art, guv, honest" ) it should be noted that northern Ireland’s performance artists earlier in the year issued a statement on Stone’s defence. The statement is worth repeating in full
"To whom it may concern,
With relation to the recent assertion by Michael Stone’s Defence Lawyer, that his attack at Stormont on 24th November 2006, was in fact ‘Performance Art’, we would like to put forward the following statement.
It has been recently published that on, or soon after, his arrest, Mr. Stone is quoted as stating that he intended to murder two political representatives during his interruption of proceedings at Stormont. In light of his own admission, we do not consider his attack at Stormont to be ‘Performance Art’. We therefore believe that this defence statement is both erroneous and misleading. Murderous intent, or attempted murder, is not art, and in fact is the antithesis of art and we do not subscribe to ‘art’ being used as a convenient and belated ‘cover’ for such actions. Creativity in art, by its very nature, cannot condone murder, as the taking of human life (against the victims’ will) negates creativity itself.
We are aware that within the History of Art there are some incidents which, at times, have set out to test social boundaries and taboos and may even involve self harm, or diverse aspects of violence to self and/or other. In most of these cases, however, the artists involved have used mediated imagery as part of a wider political, social, and cultural discourse, questioning and challenging various status quos. However, we do not know of any reputable artist who would attempt to commit actual murder under the guise of art. From our perspective, the intent to kill or to take another’s life, against his/her will, as the basis for creative art, is neither logical, palatable, nor a salient position to hold by any responsible human being.
If we accept Stone’s actions as ‘Performance Art’ on this occasion, then by implication, it could be argued the last thirty years of the ‘Troubles’ with all their attendant killings and murders, were also ‘Performance Art’. Were they? We ask you!
Alastair Mac Lennan
So a poll: Is art murder, or vice versa?