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Kristina (2022) by Mark Jenkins
Kristina (2022) by Mark Jenkins, commissioned by Steve LazaridesCourtesy Laz Emporium

Police break into London gallery after mistaking sculpture for dead body

‘Officers forced entry to the address, where they uncovered that the person was in fact a mannequin’

Let’s set the scene. You’ve just finished your long shift at a central London art gallery. You’ve locked up, cashed the float for the gift shop, and headed upstairs to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea. But what’s that you hear below? It’s the sound of the police. Specifically, the sound of the police demolishing your front door, on a freedom fighting mission to liberate a distressed woman trapped in your gallery.

Well, this was the scene that gallery assistant Hannah was greeted with last month, bar one exception – the distressed party was in fact not a human woman, but an art installation made from packing tape and foam filler in Soho’s Laz Emporium.

London’s Metropolitan Police were alerted over “concerns for the welfare of a person at a locked business premises on Lexington Street” on November 25. After arriving on the scene, a police spokesperson told Artnet News that “officers forced entry to the address, where they uncovered that the person was in fact a mannequin.”

The mannequin in question was ‘Kristina’, the life-like creation of artist Mark Jenkins, which depicts a woman in a hoodie slumped over a desk. ‘Kristina’ was commissioned by Laz Emporium owner Steve Lazarides.

Mr Lazarides tells Dazed that Kristina had been on display in his gallery for about a month or so prior to the incident. According to Lazarides, the emergency services had been contacted in regards to “someone who’d had an overdose”, and because there was no immediate answer “they decided to kick my door off its hinges”.

He adds that, once the police realised that ‘Kristina’ was in fact not human, they “weren’t particularly sympathetic”, and “gave us a bit of a hard time” for supposedly “causing concern amongst the general public”.

“Of all the fucking dodgy things I’ve done over the years in galleries, of all the times I’ve tried to push the boat as far as possible…. She’s certainly caused a storm” – Steve Lazarides

Mr Lazarides admits that he was fairly incredulous that ‘Kristina’ of all people(?) had caused this much commotion. “Of all the fucking dodgy things I've done over the years in galleries,” he continues, “of all the things I’ve tried to push the boat as far as possible…. She’s certainly caused a storm”.

At least Laz Emporium didn’t have a hefty repair bill though – when asked if the police had caused any damage to the property on entry, Lazarides says that he was pleasantly surprised to report that they’d put the door back on its hinges once they’d cleared off. “Fair play to them for having a couple of coppers with a bit of DIY expertise”, he adds in faint amazement.

The mastermind behind the stunt, artist Mark Jenkins, had been filled in on the ensuing furore by Lazarides, and found the whole situation unusually uplifting. “It really made his day because he’s never had this kind of attention for any outdoor sculpture”, Lazarides tells us, “and for an indoor piece this is unprecedented!” Next on Kristina’s hit list: code red national security incident.

The work is on show at the gallery until December 24.

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