Photo: John Jairo Villamil's Last Art Piece
John Jairo Villamil asphyxiated while in the middle of a performance art piece about his perception of Bogotá and its surroundings.
Villamil, 25, tied a garbage bag around his head, removed his shoes, and put his feet in a bucket of water, while holding in his left hand a chain with bills, and on his right a leaf from a plant. All while his art patrons were watching what they thought was another thought provoking performance by the student artist.
The young man had performed this ‘happening’ in different occasions to no adverse results, and his mother even suggested a few changes, to make the piece more impacting.
The art student audience at Bogota’s Universidad del Bosque sat still as Villamil’s breathing became agitated inside the bag, and didn’t move when he collapsed, as they thought it was all a part of the show.
Villamil died after five days in the ICU of the neighboring Clínica El Bosque.
The family of the deceased has denounced neglect from the part of the university, as they allege they failed to contact emergencies in a timely manner, and for allowing “irresponsible activities” on campus.
University officials regretted the incident, but denied any wrongdoing; Luis Arturo Rodríguez, the institution’s general secretary said they acted immediately after it became apparent the performance had gone wrong.
“[…] It was an academic exercise in which the student tried to create a representation using his own body, activity that he chose on his own, and regretfully ended in a tragedy” Rodríguez said.