A Woman Was Stabbed at Art Basel Miami Beach

Art News

December 5, 2015

Many thought it was a performance act. Except it wasn’t. A woman was actually stabbed by another woman inside the Miami Beach Convention Center on December 4th, where the world’s biggest art fair, Art Basel Miami Beach, is taking place for the 14th time. The attack took place at the NOVA section of the fair, in front of booth N29 (Freedman Fitzpatrick Gallery Los Angeles) and next to the art installation by artist Naomi Fischer. According to the latest reports, the victim is in a non-life threatening state after sustaining stabbing in the arms and neck. She was taken to the city’s Jackson Memorial hospital, while her attacked has been arrested by the police immediately after the incident.

The woman who was stabbed and her alleged attacker at Art Basel Miami Beach. Courtesy Miami Herald
The woman who was stabbed and her alledged attacker at Art Basel Miami Beach. Courtesy Miami Herald

Art Basel Miami Beach Stabbing - What Happened?

As Miami Herald reports, two patrons of Art Basel Miami Beach were involved in a fight which escalated to a stabbing, using an X-Acto knife. The attack took place at around 5.20pm local time, and the officials said that the motive behind it is currently unknown. Many of the fair visitors, who found themselves at what later turned out to be a proper crime scene, thought it was all an art performance, and that the yellow police tape was part of an installation. According to witnesses, the scene was cleared shortly after the incident happened, and that the fair security told curious visitors that an expensive sculpture fell on someone, in order not to spread panic and to keep focus on the art. After the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, Art Basel Miami Beach increased security measures, which included the inspection of women’s bags and purses at the entrance as well.

Police tape around the stabbing scene at Art Basel Miami Beach. Courtesy Miami Herald
Police tape around the stabbing scene at Art Basel Miami Beach. Courtesy Miami Herald

Latest Developments

Based on the latest reports coming from Miami, the woman who carried out the attack was identified as 24-year-old Siyuan Zhao from New York City. The authorities said that the victim confronted Zhao about purposely following her around the fair and bumping into her several times. In response, Zhao stabbed the victim in the neck and shoulder without warning, causing several and luckily no life threatening cuts. The assailant is now facing attempted murder charges. Meanwhile, Fitz & Co. president and Art Basel publicist Sara Fitzmaurice released a statement confirming that the stabbing incident took place at Art Basel Miami Beach and that “the attack was an isolated incident that was immediately secured”. While many fair visitors remained unaware of the attack, thanks to the quick reaction of the security staff and common belief that it was all a part of a performance act, those who found out about it expressed shock and fear, as we now find ourselves in an environment under great tensions in light of recent events in France and California. Now we can only hope that, in the future, these kinds of things will indeed only be art performances only.

Siyuan Zhao in Court. Image via nydailynews.com
Siyuan Zhao in Court. Image via nydailynews.com

UPDATE: Siyuan Zhao Deported to China

The latest development in last year's stabbing at Art Basel Miami Beach reveals that the attacker, 24-year-old Siyuan Zhao, will be deported to China without being allowed to ever come back to the United States. According to reports, it was revealed that she took the deal to seek treatment for mental illness in her homeland, instead of serving time in the US, after it was confirmed that her vicious attack was "motivated by ISIS paranoia." Apparently, Zhao thought that the woman she attacked was the member of the terrorist group and was there to destroy art for their purposes. Zhao’s psychiatrist told the court that she hears voices in her head and that her aggressive behavior continued even after the arrest, as she tried killing a “therapy” bird and vandalized a doctor’s car.

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Images courtesy of Rudy Perez and Miami Herald. Used for illustrative purposes only.