Vinay Menon: A $120K banana duct-taped to a gallery wall is not art — it’s a scam
|Toronto Star 10 Dec 2019 at 21:57|
I’m going to impale a watermelon on a fire poker, sneak into an art gallery and stand it against a wall next to an exhibit card that reads: “Jackass.”
Then I’ll wait for the art world to go nuts.
People, I need a game plan to get out of newspapering. And this edible art racket sounds tremendous. You want in? It’s literally a piece of cake. Or a slice of bread. Or a carton of eggs. Basically, all your food is now valuable art.
Can you imagine the long faces inside Chiquita headquarters this week? Those poor bastards have spent decades selling their bananas by the bunch for a couple of bucks. Then along comes this rascal, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who duct-tapes one banana to a gallery wall and prices it at $120,000.
I don’t know about his artistic talent. I mean, if you commissioned him to create your Christmas cards, he’d probably hand you a bag of oranges and a bill for like 200 grand. But when it comes to mocking the art world, this guy is a Rembrandt.
You know what’s really off the wall about this banana on the wall? The actual banana that was on display at the Art Basel Miami, titled “Comedian,” is beside the point. For crying out loud, another rascal, performance artist David Datuna , peeled the banana off the wall and ATE IT this weekend.
You know what would happen if you tried to eat the “Mona Lisa”? The last thing you’d remember is a swarm of security guards, frantic shouting in French and a blur of truncheons raining blows upon your head.
But this banana bandit stuffed allegedly valuable art down his piehole and the art world shrugged. Why? The art of “Comedian” is the idea of the banana on the wall and not the actual banana on the wall, which when you think about it, is bananas.
One couple that bought a “Comedian” — yes, there were three “editions” of this “renewable work” — gave a statement to the New York Post.
“We are acutely aware of the blatant absurdity of the fact that ‘Comedian’ is an otherwise inexpensive and perishable piece of produce and a couple of inches of duct tape,” said Miami art collectors Billy and Beatrice Cox. “When we saw the public debate sparked about art and our society, we decided to purchase it. We knew we were taking a risk, but ultimately we sense that Cattelan’s banana will become an iconic historical object.”
How? It will be rotten by Friday.
They also compared the banana to Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans.”
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But didn’t Warhol paint his pop art? He didn’t just glue a can of soup to a gallery wall. Have these wealthy art lovers ever been inside a grocery store? It will blow their minds, especially when they realize how many bananas they can get at Walmart for $120,000.
That’s another reason Cattelan is a sick genius. He sold these rich chumps a banana that costs more than a Porsche 718 Cayman and didn’t do a damn thing to preserve it. For that kind of dough, at least have the decency to bronze or shellac the banana. Guild the banana and duct-tape it inside an airtight display box, you cheap swine.
Instead, owners of the “Comedian” now have to replace their beloved banana whenever it gets ripe. As the Coxes told the Post, they plan to do this every two days. That’s not art; it’s a potassium-rich diet.
And I love all of these experts who shuffled out this week to defend “Comedian,” as if it were a momentous contribution to civilization. All these snooty nerds rambling on about how the banana represents the perishable nature or existence or how the banana is a metaphor for the patriarchy or how a banana suspended at eye level is a stark reminder of climate change and our dwindling food supply.
No, it isn’t. It’s just a banana duct-taped to a wall!
What are these edible art lunatics going to fall for next? A slice of bread stapled to a Bristol board? A fusilli chandelier with onion bulbs? Mount Rushmore reimagined with busts of the Trump family carved into a block of cheddar?
Despite the lineups and the selfies and the fruity excitement in the art world this week, the “Comedian” is not an artistic triumph anymore than a shark is a marsupial. For his next piece, perhaps Cattelan can leave a meatball sub outside the MoMA and call it a day.
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Any “art” that comes with an expiration date is, by definition, not timeless nor destined to become a historical object. Any “art” that requires the buyer to hit up a farmers market once a week to replace an idea is, I’m afraid, a scam.
Check your fridges, people. You could be the next Maurizio Cattelan.
In the end, the banana on the wall only makes one powerful statement: there are a lot of people out there who have more money than sense.