Minimalist work seems to be catching on in the art scene. A few years ago, a Banksy painting was sold for millions at auction, only for the picture to be shredded seconds later, the highly original piece had the art world abuzz and brought about questions of artistic license. When I asked my friend how he reacted to this stunt, he said ‘Not much. Funny, I guess.’
December of 2019, a piece evoking ‘banana art’ put another spin on creative freedom. True to its name, the work had a banana as its centrepiece. The artwork was exhibited in Miami, Florida. However, the fruit proved too tasty for one bloke to resist. He ended up chomping on it.
Several questions arise. One: was the stunt part of the whole performance? In other words, was the eater in on the joke? Second: does the piece lose value as a result of the consumption? How much worse off should the artwork be in light of this? Third: given this development, is it still worth buying? These aren’t the first examples when apparent sticky fingers have problematised performances. In Hollywood, some actors are really admirable in their dedication.
Make no mistake about the banana art: this is more than potassium on canvas. If it’s just about the kilojoules, one would be tempted to go to Kazakhstan, which Borat deems ‘greatest country in the world.’ Everyone who’s seen the film would know that Kazakhstan is bursting with potassium. No, as I’ve mentioned a few times, this is a performance. The artwork is akin to the magicians, Dynamo and David Blaine. The act of chomping on a banana is on par with a Houdini.
The setting could also explain the piece. Miami is known for its year-long sunny weather. Celebrities and commoners alike flock to South Beach for some serious surf and sun. Heck, even LeBron made light of this: ‘I’m taking my talents to South Beach.’ The team Prez, Pat Riley, had coached in both NY and LA but has lived in South Beach for over two decades and counting. The heat, beaches, and laid-back vibe, make for great entertainment.
A handy fruit
Speaking of bananas, there is no denying how handy, versatile, (and famous) this fruit is. I remember bumping into an ‘acquaintance.’ He had his game face on. Obviously, he had just done his groceries. I spied a few bananas among his haul. I also recall reading this Reader’s Digest vignette. ‘He’s hardworking, dependable, and rich in potassium.’ The image had a nana in a suit. Who could forget The Bananas in Pyjamas? B2 would always ask B1, ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking.’ Insert head bump here.
Nanas can be the base of many recipes. Banana bread is the sweet tooth’s alternative. Banana fritters go well with ice cream. Or you could just make banana split. They are also a staple of smoothies, especially during the summer. They are likewise common in fruit salads. In Southeast Asia, you can indulge in banana chips. Bananas are rich in electrolytes, carbs, and other good stuff. With their hassle-free appearance and convenient shape, they make the perfect on the go snack.
There is no doubt that a painting with a banana is some art. Couple that with an eaten banana and you’ll have tongues wagging. Was the banana placed not for aesthetic but gastronomic reasons? The banana would eventually have to be eaten. It’s not like pastels or oils that will last much longer. What does the fruit symbolise? Is it in reference to man’s evolution? A nod to Borat? An ode to sunny weather? A dietary reminder?
This brings us to the title: should the banana be replaced? Should it be with a second banana? Should they recover the peeling and tack it on? Or must another fruit take its place? Why a banana? Why not an apple, orange, or pear? The beauty of the artwork is it makes you think. Even if you’ve never actually took it in, you feel as though you’re part of the discussion. The artwork reportedly sold for $120,000. That’s one pricey banana.