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Monday, March 4, 2024

Korean student eats Cattelan’s art installation, but artist doesn’t mind

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″Comedian″ (2019) by Maurizio Cattelan, a fresh banana duct-taped to a wall, is on view as part of the artist's solo exhibition ″WE″ at Leeum Museum of Art in Yongsan District, central Seoul. [MAURIZIO CATTELAN, LEEUM]
″Comedian″ (2019) by Maurizio Cattelan, a fresh banana duct-taped to a wall, is on view as part of the artist’s solo exhibition ″WE″ at Leeum Museum of Art in Yongsan District, central Seoul. [MAURIZIO CATTELAN, LEEUM]

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan has “no problem at all” with a Korean student who ate a banana that was part of an installation by the artist, BBC reported Monday.

Simply a fresh banana duct-taped to the wall, “Comedian” (2019) is one of Cattelan’s best-known installations, which had sold for $120,000 in the past.

It is currently on view at the Leeum Museum of Art in central Seoul as part of his first Korean solo exhibition “WE.”

The student, Noh Huyn-soo, reportedly told the museum employees that he was “hungry” after “skipping breakfast.”

At the time, Noh simply took the fruit off the wall, peeled it and ate it. He then taped the peel back onto the wall after finishing it.

“In some way, you could say that Cattelan’s works are a rebellion against a certain authority, so this [incident] could be a defiance against defiance,” Noh told KBS. “I think it’s funny to think that maybe causing damage to the artwork itself may become artwork […] I taped it back just for fun. After all, wasn’t [the banana] there to be eaten?”

It is not the first time for someone to eat the banana on show. Back in 2019, performance artist David Datuna devoured it while “Comedian” was on view at the booth of the Paris-based gallery Perrotin in Art Basel Miami Beach in Florida.

The banana was replaced and no further actions were taken by the Miami gallery, explaining that the work is the artist’s idea — not the banana itself.

At the beginning of the Leeum exhibition, the museum said that it would replace the banana when it starts to go bad every couple of days.

Likewise, for Noh’s incident, the museum has already taped a new banana to the scene and has said that it would not press charges against Noh.

Cattelan is one of the highest-profile art provocateurs and pranksters. He is also the co-founder of Italian biannual magazine Toiletpaper. His hyperrealistic sculptures, such as the life-size sculpture “Donghoon and Junho” (2023), which depicts a homeless man, and an effigy of Adolf Hitler, entitled “Him” (2001), have made headlines and gone viral among the general public for their quirkiness and satire.

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [shin.minhee@joongang.co.kr]