Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Bombs could be performance art, lecturer tells Stone trial

By Paul Higgins

Published 25/09/2008

A senior art lecturer said yesterday that having real nail bombs could “come under the ambit” of performance art as long as there was no intention of using them.

Giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of 53-year-old Michael Stone, Peter Bond, a senior art lecturer at St Martin’s College in London said that if an individual had such bombs and intended to light them, “not for one moment” could that be construed as performance art.

However, he did agree with the suggestion from defence QC Orlando Pownall that if the person had “no intention whatsoever of lighting them” that could be interpreted as artistic.

Stone, of no fixed address, denies attempting to murder Sinn Fein MLAs Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness as well as 12 other charges of possessing nail and pipe bombs with intent to endanger life, possessing three knives, an axe and a garotte, having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence on November 24 2006.

Giving evidence on his own behalf, Stone claimed the whole incident was performance art, designed to send a “proverbial rocket up the backsides” of the politicians and that all the items he had with him each had their own symbolism in what he described as “an installation”.

At the start of his evidence yesterday Mr Bond, a professional performance artist himself, agreed that despite his expertise he was not permitted to say whether or not what happened at Stormont did amount to performance art but rather set out in his report “what does constitute performance art” and leave the decision up to trial judge Mr Justice Deeney.

Accepting that he was “broadly aware” of the allegations against Stone, Mr Bond told the court that since the First World War, there had been a marked increase in performance art and also that “there is indeed” an association between such art and political protests.

Asked by Mr Pownall about the nature of the audience in performance art works, he said the audience at protest art performance could be made up of passers-by who may not necessarily like what they are witnessing.

Mr Bond said the use of weapons in art had a “long tradition from the Shakespearean sword fight” to the present day.

The lawyer asked him if it was ever envisaged within art that the audience would be harmed in anyway and was told, “no, absolutely not”.

Under cross-examination from prosecuting QC Charles Adair it was put to Mr Bond if “pointing a gun in someone’s face and threatening to shoot them” constituted performance art but he replied “no... the main thing is that it doesn’t harm anybody”.

Yesterdays evidence has completed all the evidence that Mr Justice Deeney will hear in the case and later today prosecution and defence barristers will make closing submissions.

At hearing.

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