Selfie-taker smashes pumpkin sculpture

Commentary: A visitor to a Washington museum slips while taking a selfie.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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The pumpkins, before smashing.

Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The art of the selfie can be destructive to art.

Just last year, a man climbed a 126-year-old statue in Lisbon, Portugal, to take a selfie and brought it crumbling down.

Last weekend, work at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in the US capital suffered a similar fate.

As Artnet reports, a man was wandering through an infinity room called "All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins." It's the creation of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, sometimes known as the "Priestess of Polka Dots."

It seems that the man was moved to take a selfie. However, he was so overcome by the infinity of the art that he slipped. Oh, you know what comes next. He fell on one of the pumpkin sculptures and damaged it.

No, I'm not going to stoop to Smashing Pumpkins puns.

A spokeswoman for the museum told me that the incident was "unintentional" and the Infinity Room was opened again Tuesday. She added that the pumpkin, one of 60 in the room, had no intrinsic value and that replacing one costs barely anything.

However, she said that in response to this selfie-taker's imbalance, the museum had added extra security in the Infinity Room to protect against any recurrence.

There's no point pleading to selfie-takers to stop. It's so much a part of contemporary culture that it's the way many people define their lives to themselves and describe them to others.

Why else would two women have carved their initials into the walls of Rome's Coliseum in order to take a more interesting selfie?

Yes, taking a selfie while viewing artistic attractions can kill you -- as a man discovered at the Taj Mahal two years ago.

But it's a stimulus-response thing.

I see something. I must photograph it. But I must photograph myself with it. My life must be art. It must be seen to be art.

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