Arlene Mena, a 25-year-old resident of Hallandale Beach, Florida, has been charged with battery and criminal mischief for acts she claims were part of a performance art piece, the Sun Sentinel reports. The artist’s allegedly alcohol-aided performance involved standing in the middle of State Road A1A while attempting to direct traffic, throwing a traffic cone at passing motorist Dieter Heinrich, and then spitting in the disgruntled driver’s face when he attempted to stop the performance. But John “Jay” Hurley, a judge in nearby Broward, nonetheless ordered Mena to pay a $1,000 bond for the offending performance art piece.
“She looked like a very drunk person,” witness, performance art neophyte, and professional hypnotherapist Noel von Kauffman told the Sun Sentinel. “She was saying everything and doing everything to get us to let go of her.”
After he intervened to help stop Mena’s performance, von Kauffman claims the artist said her behavior was being recorded as part of a reality TV program. When this proved insufficiently convincing, von Kauffman said Mena claimed to be an FBI agent, and then warned him that he would be in trouble for stopping the performance due to her close friendship with Joy Cooper, the mayor of Hallandale Beach.
Though Mena has no prior experience as a performance artist, she said during an appearance in court yesterday that she had begun working as “a stripper” several weeks ago. Lap dances have officially been deemed not a type of performance art in New York, but they and other stripping-related performance art still occupy a legal gray zone in Florida.
“With all due respect,” Mena told Judge Hurley during her court appearance, “I was just trying to do some artwork and the guy misunderstood.”
However, Heinrich’s misunderstanding was only compounded by that of the judge, who told Mena: “Ma’am, I am getting a visual that I don’t think is appropriate right now.”
— Benjamin Sutton