Written by Vanessa Papas
Just when you thought you had heard it all a man goes and eats a banana taped to a wall that was an artwork valued at over R1-million. The banana was a part of an exhibit by renowned Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s at Art Basel Miami Beach. Cattelan is known globally as an art world prankster who is behind the creation of a R16-million, 18-carat-gold toilet that he named ‘America’.
Despite its value, in front of stunned spectators, David Datuna pulled off the art piece from the wall, peeled it and gobbled it down. A guest volunteered their own banana as a replacement, which was eventually affixed to the wall where the original had been.
“It wasn’t vandalism, it was art performance from me and absolutely I am not sorry,” Datuna says, admitting that he had planned to eat the banana early in the morning and even saved his appetite in anticipation of savouring the fruit.
“Its taste was delicious – not like huge money delicious, but it was really good. And having been stuck to the wall for a few days didn’t make it too bruised or mushy, either. It was just ripe. It was the absolutely perfect time to eat it. Like the gallery said, it’s not a banana, it’s a concept. And I just ate the concept of the artist. So I think this is cool, this is fun, this is what art is about.”
Three buyers had already paid between £90,000 and £115,000 for the limited-edition piece featuring a single banana and titled ‘Comedian’. Each piece came with a certificate of authenticity and replacement instructions (because we all know how quickly bananas go brown).
Despite the banana’s seven figure price tag, a spokeswoman for Galerie Perrotin, which represents Cattelan, said in an interview that the gallery was not taking any action against Datuna.
The gallery has had enough of the frenzy surrounding the fruit and has since taken the exhibit down. “The crowds surrounding the installation posed a serious health and safety risk, as well as an access issue, so the work was removed,” according to a gallery statement, which noted that the banana “caused several uncontrollable crowd movements.”