In my (never really completed) essay on transgression in art, I noted that “if transgression were to be defined exclusively in terms of violating the law, performance sports an impressive rap sheet of criminality…” A mostly amusing side-note to the sorts of troubling performance transgression I was concerned with is the story of how that rap-sheet now includes bank robbery.
In November 2014, Joe Gibbons—an experimental filmmaker and one-time professor at MIT—robbed a bank in Providence, RI as part of a video art project. As he told the NY Post in a lengthy article (performance art bank robbery? Of course the Post has been all over the story of the person it terms “the nutty professor”), “I tried to make it a funny note, something to get it on the news. The upsetting thing there was that the teller was jolted by the note. It really upset her.” The note suggested that the money—$3,000 in total—was for his church. Gibbons followed up on New Year’s Eve 2014 by robbing a Manhattan Capitol One, escaping with $1,002. He was caught shortly thereafter. Continue reading