'Hungry' student eats banana duct-taped in museum worth thousands
The student from Seoul National University told museum staff he ate the banana because he was hungry.
On Thursday a Seoul National University art student took the fruit, a famous piece by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, down from a wall at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea, where it was on exhibit. He then started eating it.
In a phone interview with CNN, a museum representative said, "The student told the museum he ate it because he was hungry."
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The artwork, "Comedian," which sold for $120,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2019, became one of the most well-known viral moments in the art world. At the fair, two additional editions of the work were also sold.
The student chewed on the fruit before taping the peel back to the wall. The museum eventually substituted a fresh banana for the peel.
A museum representative recalled that it "happened suddenly," so no special actions were taken.
The artist (Cattelan) was informed of the incident but didn't have any reaction to it.
The piece is a part of the solo show WE by Cattelan, which is on view at the Seoul Museum through July 16. The actual banana is not for sale and is frequently replaced every two to three days.
Cattelan is renowned for satirical works that criticize popular culture and frequently spark discussions about conceptual art.
In the past, someone else also thought the same installation would make a good snack.
As stunned onlookers watched, performance artist David Datuna removed the banana on display at the Perrotin gallery during Art Basel in Miami in 2019 after the first edition of "Comedian" sold out.
Datuna took pleasure in the prank, writing at the time on Instagram, "I really love this installation. It's very delicious."
Later, in a press conference, he defended the action, describing it as an artistic performance rather than vandalism.
Before the artwork was sold, Perrotin told CNN that bananas are "a symbol of global trade, a double entendre, as well as a classic device for humor," adding that Cattelan turns mundane objects into "vehicles of both delight and critique."
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Potential purchasers were not given guidance by the artist on what to do if and when the artwork begins to deteriorate. A copyright dispute involving the artwork is also ongoing. Joe Morford, a Californian artist from Glendale, claimed in 2022 that Cattelan copied his own 2000 piece, "Banana & Orange," in which the named fruits are taped to painted green backdrops on a wall.