When is it art? When is it performance? When is it performance art? These are age-old questions many folks in the art world and outside of it alike ask themselves and others. Recently an artist constructed an installation at Miami’s Art Basel consisting of a banana duct-taped to a wall. (For those who don’t know, Art Basel is an international art fair that is staged annually at Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach, Florida, and Hong Kong, China. Both established and emerging artists showcase their work at the fair hoping to sell as it is attended by a large international audience.)
Then a performance artist came along and ate the banana. The installation had already sold for a whopping $120,000. That someone would come along and eat the art generated some buzz and excitement, to say the least.
If you explained this to anyone in casual conversation they’d probably give you a strange look and change the subject. But in the art world, which is so nuanced and laced with meaning at every turn, angle, and brush stroke, the deeper connotations matter. Artists and non-artists are talking about the piece, its consumption, and how it may represent the larger first world issue of overconsumption and greed.
If a 5 year old could do install the piece while his kindergarten classmate implements the eating of it, does that make them performance artists?
Are artists eschewing typical work for the brief pleasure and notoriety brought when a shenanigan like this is committed? Is it all as meaningful as a Kardashian-esque publicity stunt? What would Anna Wintour think?
Was the whole fiasco designed to reflect how stupid and pointless these “artful” acts are? Was it meant to shed light on the great divide between the haves and the have-nots? After all, someone paid $120,000 for the banana taped to the wall. Then someone essentially destroyed it. Perhaps an attempt to mock the human condition and its fragility?
Dirty Money Art
Was this planned? Some are aware that wealthy investors may use art as a tax write-off by donating pieces. Was money laundering involved? Did the use of duct-tape represent the shadiness of the underground art world? We discuss these and other questions in the comments section of our Instagram page. You should take a look and tell us your thoughts.