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Art & Culture

South Korean Art Student Eats Part of $120,000 Banana Sculpture in Performance Act

  • Craig Miller
  • |
  • May 4, 2023
  • |
  • 3 minute read
  • |
South Korean Art Student Eats Part of $120,000 Banana Sculpture in Performance Act
Key Takeaways
  • A South Korean art student ate part of Maurizio Cattelan's "Comedian" banana sculpture on display at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul, taping the peel back on the wall. He claimed his actions were a form of performance art, and that damaging modern art could also be seen as an artwork in itself.
  • The "Comedian" sculpture has faced controversy since its unveiling at Art Basel in 2019, including accusations of plagiarism by artist Joe Morford. David Datuna, the artist who famously ate the banana sculpture in 2019, passed away in 2022 after battling lung cancer.
  • Datuna's "Viewpoint of Millions" series explores cultural identity from various perspectives and features mixed-media works exhibited around the world. His intervention with the banana sculpture in 2019 was dubbed "Hungry Artist," and he described his actions as an art performance, eating the concept behind the artwork rather than the art itself.
  • The controversy surrounding Cattelan's "Comedian" sculpture highlights the ongoing debate surrounding the value and meaning of modern art, and the role of the viewer in interpreting and engaging with artworks.
  • While the Leeum Museum of Art stated that no action has been taken against the South Korean art student, the incident raises questions about the preservation and security of art in public spaces, and the boundaries of performance art and its potential impact on other artworks.

 

Maurizio Cattelan’s infamous duct-taped banana sculpture, “Comedian” (2019), has made headlines once again, as a South Korean art student partially devoured the artwork in an act of performance art.

The Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul, which is currently showcasing a Cattelan exhibition, witnessed the controversial act on Sunday.

A Familiar Scene: Art Student Reenacts 2019 Incident

The student, Noh Huyn-soo from Seoul National University, visited the museum, ate the banana, and taped the peel back on the wall.

Noh, who claimed to have missed breakfast and was hungry, viewed his actions as a form of performance art. He told the Korea Herald that damaging modern art could also be seen as an artwork in itself.

Noh’s actions mirrored a similar event in 2019 when artist David Datuna ate the banana as a performance at Perrotin’s Art Basel Miami Beach booth.

The sculpture was subsequently removed due to safety concerns.

Maurizio Cattelan’s infamous duct-taped banana sculpture, “Comedian” (2019), has made headlines once again, as a South Korean art student partially devoured the artwork in an act of performance art.

Ongoing Controversy and Legal Issues

When “Comedian” was first unveiled at Art Basel, it caused a stir with its $120,000 price tag, leaving the public puzzled about its artistic value.

The sculpture has continued to face scrutiny over the years. In 2022, artist Joe Morford sued Cattelan, accusing him of plagiarizing a piece Morford had created 13 years earlier.

A spokesperson from the Leeum Museum stated that no action had been taken against Noh, and Cattelan was informed of the incident but had no reaction.

Remembering David Datuna: The Original “Hungry Artist”

David Datuna, a Georgian-born American artist who gained international attention for eating the banana sculpture in 2019, sadly passed away in 2022 after a battle with lung cancer, at the age of 48.

Datuna’s “Viewpoint of Millions” series explores the sources and meaning of cultural identity from various perspectives.

His signature technique involves suspending a network of positive and negative optical lenses over a large-scale, layered, collaged, and painted image.

The mixed-media palette often includes photography, magazine clippings, newspaper articles, paint, and color.

The artist’s works, featuring portraits, icons, and flags, have been exhibited in Europe, China, Russia, and the United States.

His intervention with the banana artwork in 2019 was dubbed “Hungry Artist,” and he described his actions as an art performance, stating he ate the concept behind the artwork rather than the art itself.

Despite Datuna’s passing, the controversy surrounding Cattelan’s “Comedian” sculpture persists, as demonstrated by Noh Huyn-soo’s recent performance act in South Korea.

Craig Miller

Craig Miller

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