When a Great Idea Works a Little Too Well

Same Gallery in Tokyo had an exhibit specifically meant to be stolen.

Their intention was to ask questions about the relationship between artist, art, and audience and how that changes when everyone knows the art will be stolen. The plan was that, following the opening night reception, they would have the gallery open 24 hours a day over 10 days for people to come in and steal what they wanted.

It worked, but not how they intended.

200 people showed up to their opening night reception, eager to engage in some sanctioned thievery and get free art. It took mere minutes for the space to be cleared out, and the gallery wound up apologizing that no one got to actually see the art.

It's kind of the perfect outcome, isn't it? They thought they could have a slowly dwindling art show where people come back day after day to see what's been stolen and reflect on the meaning of thievery and ownership and art and artists and audiences.

Instead, they get a 10-day exhibit of blank gallery walls that give new flavour to those ponderings while the art is (hopefully) joyously on display in someone else's home.

What happens when our great ideas are seized with wild abandon? When they work a little too well?

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