Apart from the outfits and the celebrity guestlist, one of the most notable events at this year’s Met Gala was the sight of a naked man curled up inside a glass box on the red carpet, albeit briefly, before being carried away by some humoured NYPD officers.
This is becoming a regular occurrence at exclusive art functions across the world. Indeed the culprit, Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich, intended to repeat the act in five cities he feels ‘deeply connected to’, namely Venice, Moscow, London, São Paolo and New York. So who is the gatecrasher and what is the purpose of the act?
Pavlov-Andreevich is a Russian performance artist whose work deals with the ‘communication between the artist and his audience’, and also tends to explore a shock element. His current work, comprising the Met appearance, is a series called five performances called Foundling, referring to the idea of a baby abandoned by its mother. The concept of this performance series, as explained by Pavlov-Andreevich, is ‘I am donating my body encased in a clear box. The receiver of this work is either an institution or individual who has difficulty understanding or accepting performance art.’ If seen in this way, so far each performance has been a huge success, as his ‘donation’ has been rejected on every occasion. Other targeted events include a Christie’s gala in Venice and an evening at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow much to the ire of these elite art and fashion establishments.
Pavlov-Andreevich seems to push not only the limits of artistic expression but also his own personal limits. Admitting that he suffers from claustrophobia, therefore making his experience in a small glass box extremely uncomfortable, he has also just finished a series of seven-hour performances suspeneded from different heights called the Temporary Monuments in São Paolo; “My vertigo is desperately strong so this was a much worse experience than the Met. I was literally shaking.”
The overwhelming reaction to his gatecrashing performances seems to be a lack of understanding and a reputation as the ‘naked idiot’, but Pavlov-Andreevich is just fine with it, calling the backlash “a bit beautiful in a way”. Let’s see where he will be popping up next. Fydor remains under a pending criminal lawsuit, we will have to wait and see if he pops up again somewhere else.