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Famous banana artwork by Maurizio Cattelan eaten by museum visitor in Seoul

An art student has eaten the artwork "Comedian", pictured here in Beijing in 2021 - currently being displayed in Seoul
An art student has eaten the artwork "Comedian", pictured here in Beijing in 2021 - currently being displayed in Seoul Copyright Getty
Copyright Getty
By David Mouriquand
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Picture the scene: You're hungry and the museum you're visiting has a banana taped to the wall. Art installation be damned. The stomach wants what the stomach wants...

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When you think of an expensive meal, your mind probably wanders to a three-star Michelin spread or a perfectly cooked slice of Wagyu steak with a side helping of Beluga caviar in a fancy Dubai restaurant.

But one South Korean student has eaten a banana that may be the most expensive craving he’s ever indulged.

Indeed, art major at Seoul National University Noh Huyn-soo has eaten a banana that was part of an installation by Italian visual artist Maurizio Cattelan.

The artwork called "Comedian", part of Cattelan's's exhibition "WE", consisted of a ripe banana duct-taped to a wall at Seoul's Leeum Musuem of Art.

The student reportedly detached the banana, peeled it and unashamedly ate it. He then placed the banana peel back on the wall using the duct tape. When the museum asked him to explain his actions, he replied that he was hungry as he missed breakfast.

Leeun Museum of Art - Facebook
"Comedian" - here on the poster of the Maurizio Cattelan exhibition in SeoulLeeun Museum of Art - Facebook

The museum later placed a new banana at the same spot (something done every three days according to Cattelan’s instructions, regardless of the flippant actions of hungry students) and told media that it will not claim damages against the student. Thankfully for Noh. 

A local broadcaster asked Noh to elaborate on the act, and the student said his actions could also be interpreted as art. He stated that he saw Cattelan's work as a rebellion against a certain authority.

"There could be another rebellion against the rebellion," he said. "Damaging an artwork could also be seen as an artwork, I thought that would be interesting... Isn't it taped there to be eaten?"

When told about the incident, Cattelan responded: "No problem at all".

After all, this is not the first time the bananas used for Cattelan's work have been eaten by a visitor. In 2019, performance artist David Datuna pulled the banana from the wall after the artwork was sold for $120,000 (approx. €109,000) at Art Basel in Miami.

A video of Datuna eating the banana went viral on social media.

The banana was swiftly replaced and no further action was taken.

Maurizio Cattelan’s first solo exhibition in South Korea at the Leeum runs through 16 July. Maybe have a snack beforehand.

Additional sources • The Korea Herald

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