Artist Maurizio Cattelan’s ridiculous duct-taped banana is back in the news. On Thursday, April 27, art student Noh Huyn-soo of Korea’s Seoul National University ate an edition of “Comedian” (2019) on display in an exhibition of Cattelan’s works at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul.
Huyn-soo’s friend recorded the incident and posted it on Instagram. Dressed in a suit, the student removes the banana, takes a few bites, and then tapes the empty peel back onto the wall.
Huyn-soo said he had skipped breakfast and was hungry, but later conceded that the performance was more thought-out.
“Damaging a work of modern art could also be [interpreted as a kind of] artwork,” he said in an interview with the Korea Herald. The banana is switched every two or three days and the Leeum Museum of Art is reportedly not pressing charges. (The museum has not yet responded to Hyperallergic‘s immediate request for comment).
If it feels like déjà vu, that’s because a nearly identical incident occurred four years ago at Art Basel Miami Beach. “Comedian” had sold three times and snagged a $120,000 price tag. The absurdity of the installation — and art world’s apparent acceptance of it — made the work go viral. Then late performance artist David Datuna ate the banana, and he went viral, too.
Huyn-soo seems to have ripped a page straight from Datuna’s handbook. “It’s art performance … hungry artist,” Datuna said back in 2019.
Cattelan is represented by blue-chip mega gallery Perrotin, but his trolling body of work has repeatedly made a mockery of the art world. In 2016, Cattelan created “America,” a solid gold, fully-functioning toilet valued at around $6 million; three years later, the work was stolen from an exhibition at England’s Blenheim Palace, where it was installed in an actual bathroom and presented to visitors for actual use. The golden toilet is still at large.
In 2020, an anonymous donor gifted their copy of “Comedian” to New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Since the work is comprised of a relatively fresh banana and normal duct tape, the donation comprised rights to reproduce it and an instruction manual which was an unbelievable 14 pages long.