Couple mistakenly defaces a painting after mistaking it for participatory artwork

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JonOne, Untitled. The three dark blotches in the center were added by visitors to "Street Noise," an exhibition at P/O/S/T, a gallery at Seoul's Lotte Street Mall, who mistook the display for the paint and brushes used to make the piece for the trappings of a participatory work. (Photo courtesy of P/O/S/T.)
JonOne, Untitled. The three dark blotches in the center were added by visitors to "Street Noise," an exhibition at P/O/S/T, a gallery at Seoul's Lotte Street Mall, who mistook the display for the paint and brushes used to make the piece for the trappings of a participatory work. (Photo courtesy of P/O/S/T.)
  • While at Lotte World Mall in Seol a couple vandalised a painting after seeing its accompanied paint and brushes. 
  • The couple explained how they thought the $500 000 installation was a call to participate. 
  • Instead of pressing charges against the pair, the exhibitors focus on restoring the artwork. 


A couple in South Korea unknowingly vandalised a painting valued at $500 000 after mistaking the artwork for a participatory piece. 

Beneath the artwork sat paint and brushes. On seeing these tools, the couple, a man and a woman in their 20s assumed it was a call to action. Contributing their bit, the couple added black splotches of paint to the piece. 

American graffiti artist JonOne made the painting in front of a live audience five years ago in Seoul. Considered an integral part of the artwork, the paint and brushes used to make the piece are displayed with the painting. 

Considering the couple’s actions as a “mistake” the artist and exhibitors responsible for the exhibition have decided not to lay charges. “They thought they were allowed to do that as participatory art and made a mistake,” Kang Wook, the head of the exhibition at Seoul’s Lotte World Mall, Kang Wook told Reuters. Instead Wook says that since the incident, they have been in talks with the artist about restoring the painting. 

To avoid any other such mishaps, the painting is secured with a small fence in addition to being placed next to a ‘do not touch’ sign. 

The artist, JonOne could not be reached to respond to the incident. 

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