A quick-acting disc jockey saved the day — and quite possibly helped catch the art world’s elusive Splasher — at Thursday night’s glitzy opening to graffiti legend Shepard Fairey’s DUMBO installation after one of the guests attempted to light a flammable device amidst a crowd of 500 street-art lovers.
DJ 10 Fingers first spotted the would-be “art critic” as he prepared to ignite what cops called a “flammable device” towards the end of the opening of Fairey’s “E Pluribus Venom” show at 81 Front St. at around 11 pm. A witness said the quick-acting disc jockey subdued the man just in time.
A half-hour later, the bomb squad rushed to the scene to “investigate some sort of flammable device,” and arrested the alleged would-be bomber, said an NYPD spokesperson.
The suspect, whom police said was from Bushwick, was charged with reckless endangerment and attempted arson, which carries a maximum of 15 years in jail.
Few noticed the attempted ignition — and 10 Fingers’ subsequent intervention — but the opening night celebration ended shortly thereafter.
Security “immediately swept the entire room to make sure there weren’t more devices,” said event coordinator Michael Petrovich. “We went into shut-down mode, trying to get everyone out in an orderly fashion. Luckily, not too many people realized what was going on.”
Petrovich said there was a second suspect who fled the scene, but police would not confirm that claim.
The incident has left many in the art world wondering, could this be the famous Splasher — a shadowy figure who has made headlines (in some circles) by vandalizing outdoors works by established graffiti artists.
Nobody knows his (or her) identity, but at a street artist gallery opening earlier this month in Manhattan, a critic set off a “stink bomb” — and many believe it was the Splasher.
Fairey wouldn’t talk about the Thursday night incident, but in an earlier interview with The Brooklyn Paper, he made it clear that he disapproves of the Splasher’s approach: “If you want to critique the absorption of the street art world into the bourgeois system, then say it in a way that’s not just totally destructive and really meaningless. The Splasher is just destroying and not making any contribution. And he’s selective about splashing only people who do some of the best work because they’re the ones who end up succeeding commercially.” (Read the full interview).
As of Friday, however, it was unclear whether the attempted bombing of Fairey’s opening was indeed the work of the Splasher.
But then again, how would anyone know?
“This is not a situation where someone is going to come out and say they’re the Splasher,” Petrovich said. “These individuals are either stupid or they just have some sort of jealousy.”