Student Eats Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana for Breakfast

In 2019, conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan sent shockwaves through the art world when he duct-taped a banana to the wall and called it a piece of art. The performance happening at Art Basel Miami, and the piece, titled Comedian, was sold as an edition of three for $120,000 each. Now Comedian is back in the news after a Korean university student decided the banana was the perfect snack.

Noh Huyn-soo plucked the banana off the wall of the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul and ate it before putting the empty peel back up on the wall. A friend recorded the entire act, which took just under a minute. When asked why he ate the banana, Noh simply told Korean journalists that he was hungry after having skipped breakfast that morning. During an interview with broadcaster KBS he expanded the reasons behind his actions, stating that “damaging a work of modern art could also be [interpreted as] artwork.” He also said that he reattached the peel as “a joke.”

The museum staff replaces the banana every two to three days and quickly moved to take down the peel and put up a new banana. Comedian is at the museum as part of Cattelan's solo exhibition WE, which is on display until July 16. The Italian artist is currently in New York, and when asked his opinion about Noh's actions, he reportedly responded, “No problem.”

Given Cattelan's reaction, the museum has decided not to take action against Noh. In reality, Noh isn't the first person to take a bite out of the banana. During the 2019 installation at Art Basel Miami, Georgian performance artist David Datuna took the banana off the wall and ate it. In that case, Datuna said that he took issue with the fact that Cattelan was selling Comedian for such a high price.

During an interview with The Guardian, Datuna explained, “What I don’t like, however, is that a banana costs 20 cents. I think it is a good idea to put it in a museum if it is free to watch. But when you sell it for $120,000? Then decide to make a second and third edition, and that third edition is $150,000? It is silly, and not good for our contemporary life.”

Cattelan, whose work is infused with humor and satire, is used to getting people talking. Last year, his fully functional, 18-carat gold toilet titled America was stolen from the UK's Blenheim Palace in a move that led to flooding and damage at the historical building. And in 1996, he actually stole the entire contents of another artist's show and attempted to pass it off as his own for an exhibition called Another F****** Readymade, with the idea of creating a found art hall. His plans were foiled when Dutch police threatened to arrest him.

h/t: [The Guardian]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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