|Austrian Clown Arrested|
|Austrian artist Christian Eisenberger (1978) was arrested on Monday by the Metropolitan Police on the corner of Bishopsgate and New Street in the City of London. After a brief interrogation he was released, carrying parts of his outfit in a plastic bag.|
Eisenberger, who is well known in Austria for his sculptures and performances in public spaces as well as for performances in the middle of nature, was walking on Bishopsgate, wearing a clown's outfit, when a member of the public alerted the police. Most probably, the reason for this was that Eisenberger wore not only a typical clown's costume with the appropriate clown's make-up, but also carried a belt around his waist fitted with brightly coloured artificial explosives.
Eisenberger, who was visiting London for 48 hours, commented that he knew that the walk through London would fail at a certain point, but to his surprise his visits to Downing Street, Parliament Square, the new Saatchi Gallery and the Tate Modern went unchallenged. The public responded with amusement and while some members of the public raised eyebrows, none of the security guards at the various sites took action.
However his freedom as a clown ended when he was spotted by members of staff at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) who stood outside smoking cigarettes.
Minutes later, exactly 20 footsteps away from the police station at Bishops Gate near Liverpool Street Station, eight policemen surrounded Eisenberger, handcuffed him, and led him to the nearby police station, having relieved him of his red clown's wig and red nose.
Where the same performance earlier this year in Vienna caused only amusement, it goes without saying that walking through London's financial centre in an 'explosive clowns costume" will draw not only reactions by the public, but also by the police who will react swiftly.
Perhaps in these chastened times, tragicomic figures will draw attention and will make people stop and think. The irony of this event is that the clown 'Eisenberger' was not only being a clown but he also seemed to be a potential threat to the public.
HVS December 2008