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Shoot In Gallery: Clifton Childree’s DREAM-CUM-TRU is stormed by armed police.

Locust Projects’ project space, home of the theater where Childree executes his acclaimed performance and suspected site of the shooting.

An incident has occurred at a Miami gallery in which Police allegedly shot a piece of work believing it to be an intruder. Miami based experimental film maker, Clifton Childree’s exhibition DREAM-CUM-TRU at Locust Projects (105 NW 23rd Street) was roused from its slumber one evening this week by armed police who were responding to a distress signal from the buildings alarm company. Director of Locust Projects Claire Breukel was one of the first on the scene:

“It was 11 o’clock at night when I got a phone call from our alarm company saying that there was a problem. I was actually having dinner with Mark Coetzee, Director of the Rubell Family Collection, and so I asked him to come with me as I was a bit too scared to go on my own. The cops met us outside and as we pulled up there were these two very large police cars and these four cops waiting by the entrance. I opened the door and they all went running in and checked the place out. Obviously it’s not the usual kind of space that they would have to go into. Anyway, I was standing out side with Mark and we heard these loud noises and what sounded like gun shots and then the cops came out and this one guy with a red face said: “We found a manikin behind a door and we kind of wiped him out” and that he was terribly sorry. I just had this huge grin on my face and said “Its totally fine.” They proceeded to fill out a bunch of paper work but I didn’t have to sign anything. It was very odd but it was really really funny. I think it’s the first time, at least that I am aware of, that the police have actually attacked an art piece.”

Manikin in the right hand corner of the theater. This is believed by many to have been the most likely victim of the brutality.

The general consensus is that the manikin in question is the one to the right of the stage where Childree does his performance (pictured above) but there is still an element of uncertainly. In an attempt to get a definitive answer we asked Childree who was quickly on the scene to assess the damages:

“Well, you know, the manikin in question is kind of a raggedy thing already, but I looked all over it and behind it and I could not find an obvious hole. I haven’t done a lot of ‘research’ yet but I think that when I take down the show I will probably find it. But here’s the thing; Claire [Breukel] had mentioned that he [the officer] shot at the manikin after actually telling it to lay down which obviously it didn’t! This insane to me because if it were a deaf person what are you going to do, just shoot him?! I don’t know exactly what happened, maybe he just tackled it, but when I arrived there nothing was laying on the ground so … And I heard actually that the police had to go through discharge papers which they do whenever they use a fire arm but maybe they did just tackle it and stand it back up, I don’t know. The thing is, it’s so dark in there because I had removed all the regular light bulbs so they were probably looking at this thing with a flash light. If Claire is right about the discharge papers then they had to have shot at it because otherwise why all the red tape? Either way I think it’s definitely the one in the room where I do the performance. There’s no way it could be any of the others because they’re hanging.”

One of Childree’s other (hanging) manikins. “Err, that’s not a bullet hole son!”

But how does Childree, whose exhibition actually features a mock Shooting Gallery entitled “Tally Ho” feel about his work being savaged by the long arm of the law?

“I am completely thrilled that it happened, I think it’s incredible. Presumably it was a false alarm but I mean how many people can say that they’ve had a show that cops went in there and shot it up! It really goes well with my whole slapstick aesthetic and scenarios. I imagine it as though the cops were like The 3 Stooges with their guns shaking and their knees rattling looking around all scared; cause its spooky in there especially when you only have a flashlight. So I am totally thrilled about it, I think it’s hilarious! When Claire told me I just laughed, I couldn’t believe it!”

This bizarre happening, despite casting a shadow of doubt over the levels of reasonable force exerted by Miami police thankfully passed without incident. If art work was shot then damage was minimal and of little consequence to the integral fabric of the exhibition. On the contrary it has served to add yet another layer of intrigue to this unusual show and even inspired Childree, one of Miami’s more unconventional artists, to work this event into one of this future films[.]

–Thomas Hollingworth


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Shoot In Gallery: Clifton Childree’s DREAM-CUM-TRU is stormed by armed police.