Maurizio Cattelan’s Banana Goes Viral

The story of one lowly banana taped on the wall of a booth at Art Basel Miami Beach, which from being the backdrop to an Epstein conspiracy theory to being sold for $120k to being eaten all in the span of a week.

“It Tasted Like $120,000,” says the artist who serendipitously ate Maurizio Cattelan’s scrumptious artwork, which a mere day before had been sold to not one but two collectors, and then a museum.

“It’s not vandalism, I’m a performance artist,” David Datuna said defiantly of the stunt, which has sent shockwaves on blogs and the mainstream media.

Like him or not, Cattelan’s latest viral art work — consisting simply of a banana taped onto the white wall of Galerie Perrotin’s booth at Art Basel Miami — is but another in a career of PR stunts by the art world’s prankster par excellence.

The yellow banana, speckled with small black dots forming, unleashed absolute chaos last week in Miami. After it was sold to two collectors, a protester stormed the back drop and used red lipstick to scribble a conspiracy theory that the eponymous financier and convicted Child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein did not committee suicide in a New York jail earlier this year.

Earlier this year, Cattelan was in the press after a solid gold toilet he made was “stolen” from Blenheim Palace in England, it’s whereabouts still remain unknown.

Throughout it all, Cattelan has become a bona-fide icon in contemporary art. Known the world over for developing simple yet conceptually deep statements about the uneasy relationship between art, capital and value, Cattelan’s latest banana stunt speaks volumes about the art world’s obsessiveness with creating high net-worth objects out of thin air.

After it was sold for $120k, the New York Post ran a feature by its Comedian on its cover with a headline that read: “Bananas! Art world gone mad — this duct-taped fruit sold for $120k.”

The real trojan horse behind the banana, however, is not so much what it says about the creation of value in contemporary art, but rather the lack thereof.

When someone buys a banana taped onto the wall of a gallery, they are not just buying the literal object. Rather, they are buying the idea behind it. In this case, the rights to Cattelan’s banana — legally speaking — is issued by the gallery via a promise or certificate of authenticity, essentially a contract that allows the buyer to then exhibit it or resell it.

An augmented readymade for a post-readymade era, the banana is like AI for an art market gone quantumly mad.

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Originally published at .ART.

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