Recently released CCTV video shows the young lads touching and pulling the wall-mounted work, but we also see their two adult chaperones whip out their phones and film the entire incident — because documentation of this precious scene for posterity sure beats discipline. Not until the boys deliver their fatal blow, pulling the artwork off the wall then letting it crash back against it, do their chaperones frantically wave their hands, gesturing for their charges to return. You’d think one would exercise extra precaution in a building where everything on view is highly breakable, but some people just don’t want to interrupt that moment when art seduces their kids.
The sculpture, “Angel Is Waiting” by artist and pioneer of China’s studio glass movement Shelly Xue, has been on view — and cordoned off by rope barriers — since 2014. It depicts a pair of angel’s wings constructed of glass fragments. According to Arte Magazine, Xue spent about 27 months making it and dedicated it to her newborn daughter. Rather than fixing the work after the boys’ rough handling of it, she has decided to leave it as is. She has simply retitled it “Broken.”
The museum has reportedly not announced whether the children or women received any form of punishment, but it has installed a screen playing the surveillance footage on loop next to the piece — perhaps as a cautionary tale, or as a way to shame the delinquents and their documentarians, which would align well with Chinese custom. Either way, the moment is gathering more views and shares than if it had only been played at that family’s next reunion!