A Georgian Performance Artist & the $120,000 Banana

When you think about how ‘banana’ and ‘art’ could be put together in one sentence, you’re probably reminded of Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground. However, contemporary art is here to surprise you with new visions, and last week, a banana duct-taped to a wall made perfect art sense.

The piece, titled ‘Comedian,’ by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan was on show at the international gallery Perrotin at Art Basel in Miami when, on Saturday December 7, Georgian-born and now New York-based performance artist David Datuna casually grabbed it from the wall and ate it. The Georgian artist reacted to the resulting shock by shrugging his shoulders and saying he “was hungry.”

The artwork was originally hailed by Perrotin, a French contemporary art dealer and gallery owner, as “a symbol of global trade, a double entendre, as well as a classic device for humor.” Perrotin Gallery had represented Cattelan in Miami’s exhibition.

Maurizio Cattelan, known for his humor in the art world, has lead a long career of testing the limits: from a golden toilet called ‘America’, and taxidermy, waxworks of John F Kennedy, the pope and Hitler to large sculptures of extended middle fingers. So it came as no surprise to the reality of contemporary art that Cattelan this time came up with taping a banana to the wall, claiming that he worked for a year on the conceptual piece.

Three collectors had already paid between $120,000 – 150,000 to purchase a certificate for the banana artwork when Georgian-born artist David Datuna came out of the blue and ate it.

All is not lost for the buyers, as the certificates claim that the owners can replace the banana and it will still be a Cattelan.

“[Datuna] did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea,” Lucien Terras, the gallery director told the Miami Herald.

A point proven when a fresh banana was affixed to the wall minutes later.

David Datuna was born in Tbilisi. A performance artist and an art-collector, he currently lives in New York.

In his interviews with the Guardian and the CNN, Datuna showcased his affection for the Italian artist and his conceptual piece.

“I would love to meet him. I think he is a genius. Art is about comedy, about fun, about tragedy, about emotions. He played this very well. I love the banana of Andy Warhol, but I think Cattelan has put the banana on a different level.”

He revealed his thought process as well, saying that: “[I thought] what can I do with this banana? How can I bring it to yet another level?” And how to do it also with comedy? So I ate it. It is something deeper,” Datuna told the Guardian.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

Image source: BBC News, Artnet News

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