Share, Listen, Think

“Artistic Crime”

In Art, Life in Society on November 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

In 1974 after the recent completion of the World Trade Center, Philippe Petit after months of planning and spying with accomplices, snuck in and wire-walked between the top of the towers.

Is this art?

He was arrested immediately afterwards.

One of the officers, Sgt. Charles Daniels remembers,

“I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire….And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle….He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again….Unbelievable really….Everybody was spellbound in the watching of it.”    (Wikipedia)

Was his disregard for and insult of the policemen justified?

“As a child I loved to climb everywhere.  I’ll let the psychiatrist decide why.  Maybe I wanted to escape my time.  Maybe I wanted to see the world from a different perspective and I was an explorer at heart.  Who knows and who cares, but I was a little climber.  And nobody, not my parents, not my teachers, nobody could stop me.” (Man on Wire)

Annie Allix his girlfriend at the time –
“There was always and still is, this ‘bad boy’ side to Philippe’s character.  He had a very strict upbringing and he would never have strayed too far down that illegal road but he got great pleasure from taking certain ‘liberties.’  He’s so excessive, so creative, so each day is like a work of art for him.  What excited him most about this adventure, aside from being a beautiful show, was that it was like a bank robbery and that pleased him enormously.  (Man on Wire)

On the rope, he told [an interviewer], he lives intensely. He doesn’t think of anything, he just lives.  (Murphy Williams, The Telegraph)

He calls himself a “poet in the sky.”

But what about the selfishness of his actions?  What about the fact that he essentially holds people hostage with the threat of his death?  Or is there really much risk, since he is so practiced and focused?  How does this differ from a ‘regular’ suicide attempt or threat?  If the definition of art is pushing boundaries, where does respect for others come in?

Traffic was stopped up and probably dangerous situations were created during the performance of his stunts.  What do you think about the fact that all charges against him were later dropped and he was basically given the keys to the city of New York?  And deemed a high-wire artist?

What about the question, “Is all art performance art?”

Philippe says,“[What really attracts me; [is] the challenge part of doing something that’s supposed to be impossible, and in the meantime doing something that’s so beautiful that not only doesn’t hurt anybody, but gives something to somebody.”  (Man on Wire)

~ HR

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