THE INK PANTHER
VINCENT J. KRAL
I was invited to curate an exhibition at the Ink Miami Art Fair during Miami’s Art Basel. I was given a suite dubbed the Pulp Lounge and was given the task of curating one work from each of the thirteen exhibitors. As I started my research of the exhibitors’ websites I wrestled with trying to come up with a cohesive theme for selecting works. I had limited time to coordinate with exhibitors as to what works they were bringing. I wanted to make it as simple as possible. I did not like trying to select works from the websites, I wanted to hand pick the works onsite and take them for my show. That’s when I conceived the art heist scenario but I didn’t want visitors to believe there had been an actual theft, it had to be over the top and funny so I came up with the title “The Ink Panther” and switched from curator to performance artist.
I created fourteen monogrammed art-handling gloves like those left by the Phantom in the Pink Panther movies. I took one piece from each room allowing the exhibitors to help decide which piece could be taken. In return I left a glove and a clue that could be displayed at their discretion that indicated a piece was missing from their collection. In the Pulp Lounge I hung all of the stolen artworks in the main living space and created an installation in the bedroom that was filled with clues as to the identity of the thief: Vincent J. Kral. The title cards for each work also read as clues telling where each piece was taken from and provided the name and room number of each exhibitor. The performance aspect began as I wandered the fair as Inspector Jacques Clouseau complete with trench coat, hat and a large magnifying glass. I spoke with patrons in character and explained that I was on the case and would have it solved by the end of the fair. This performance piece was important because it became the solution to my curating predicament and added an amusing way for patrons to explore the fair.