Artist delivers himself nude to Met Gala

NEW YORK • Talk about a red carpet entrance.

A naked man curled up inside a clear plastic box was dropped off at Monday night's Met Gala - one of the more outlandish moments in New York's red carpet history.

It did not take long for the cops to arrive. The man inside the acrylic glass box was Russian artist Fyodor Pavlov-Tsarevich, who flew into town to shake things up and draw attention to the performing arts. He was dragged off the carpet after a few moments and arrested at around 8.15pm.

The police were unable to open the box and Pavlov-Tsarevich refused orders to exit, so the fire department had to cut open the box, according to the police. The next day, he was charged with public lewdness, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct that created hazardous conditions.

By that time, the Vimeo clip showing the whole incident has been viewed more than 30,000 times on the Internet and news items appeared in the local press. For Pavlov-Tsarevich, it was mission accomplished."It was super successful,'' the 41-year-old artist said when reached by phone on Wednesday afternoon as he browsed the Whitney Museum.

What for many others would amount to a horrific, 24-hour ordeal was the happy culmination of a five-part performance art project that began two years ago in Venice and has taken place in Moscow, London and Sao Paulo.

Titled Foundling - which refers to a baby abandoned by a mother - the project is based on a simple concept. "I am donating my body encased in a clear box,'' Pavlov-Tsarevich said. "The receiver of this work is either an institution or individual who has difficulty understanding or accepting performance art."

To "succeed" artistically, his donation has to be rejected. He has achieved this result again and again, usually with the help of security.

"I've never been arrested in my life," he said. "My body is my instrument. I send my body as a work of art. All five times, it's been badly rejected and hated."

Pavlov-Tsarevich, who is blond, slender and about 1.88m tall, claims that the project is not a publicity stunt, but an attempt to bring attention to performance. "I am not seeking press and attention," he said. "I am not trying to embarrass anyone. I am trying to see if people can relax and have a sense of humor about things. It's a work that entirely depends on the audience."

His past targets have included Christie's and its owner Francois Pinault (at a glamorous party in Venice), as well as Dasha Zhukova's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. The former two do not show or sell performing art, he said.

He plans on writing a book and creating an exhibition about these five happenings.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Artist delivers himself nude to Met Gala'. Print Edition | Subscribe