South Korean Student Eats Banana Art Piece Valued at $120,000

Source: Kim Kyoungtae/Maurizio Cattelan/Leeum Museum of Art / Instagram

Art is meant to provoke thought and engage with its audience in new and interesting ways. All art won’t appeal to everyone, which is why there are dozens of different styles and philosophies regarding art and the way that is consumed by the audience. A college student out of South Korea has taken the concept of “consuming” art to a new level, though, with an art piece titled “Comedian.”

“Comedian,” Explained

At first glance, “Comedian” doesn’t look like your traditional concept of art. In fact, it doesn’t particularly look like art at all. The piece consists of a banana, fully in its peel, taped to the wall with duct tape. It was first conceived in 2019 by artist Maurizio Cattelan, and the first exhibit of “Comedian” sold for $120,000.

Source: Instagram/iven_pp

Following the success of “Comedian,” another copy was put up for sale which also sold for $120,000. A third exhibit sold for $150,000, which is a stunning commentary on a piece of art that, according to Cattelan, is meant to be satirical and represent both a comedic double entendre as well as a commentary on global trade.

The Exhibit Caught a Visitor’s Eye

The most recent exhibition of “Comedian” has made headlines for reasons other than a sale price or the theoretical interpretation of its intent, though. An exhibition at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea, was being visited by myriad tourists and guests, as always, when the display of “Comedian” caught the attention of one person in particular.

Source: Sarah Cascone

Noh Huyn-Soo, an art student, was visiting the museum and “Comedian” caught his eye. In a moment that stunned fellow visitors – and was caught on camera for the shock and awe of the internet – Noh walked over to the banana, took it off the wall, and proceeded to eat it in front of the other museum visitors.

Viral for Social Media

The video quickly went viral on social media, with people both horrified and amused by Noh’s actions towards the modern art piece. In a later interview, Noh stated that he had skipped breakfast that morning and was hungry, and that was why he had chosen to eat “Comedian.”

Source: Noh Huyn-Soo

Noh took the act one step further, though. After he was done eating the banana, he reused the same tape that had been used to tape the whole banana to the wall, and used it to tape the banana peel back up. Noh claimed that his consumption of “Comedian” was meaningful as well, and that the act could be considered a type of artistic interpretation in itself.

“Comedian” Has Been Eaten Before

This is not the first time that a version of “Comedian” has been consumed by one of its viewers. In 2019, shortly after the piece first debuted, performance artist David Datuna walked up to the banana and snatched it off the wall to eat it in front of a shocked audience.

Source: Youtube/Dogwoof

When asked why he did it, Datuna stated that he was flabbergasted by the fact that a banana on the wall was earning so much money when there were people all around the world who were starving. He was not the only one to express disappointment in the success of the rather odd piece of art, but he was the only one to take such drastic measures to express his opinion.

The Artist Doesn’t Mind

As for the artist himself, Cattelan has no issue with the consumption of his art. He recognizes that his art is not for everyone, and that the meaning of the piece is more metaphorical rather than in the physical art piece itself.

Source: Youtube/Dogwoof

This is a theme that carries across the majority of Cattelan’s work. Other pieces of his include “America” – an 18-carat gold toilet that’s valued at more than $6 million, and “Il Dito” – a sculpture of a middle finger that once sat opposite to Milan’s stock exchange. His artwork uses everyday objects as vehicles to communicate meaning, and “Comedian” is no exception.

Noh Walked Away Consequence-Free

The social media video of Noh eating “Comedian” spread the latest incident of the art piece being eaten like wildfire. Noh got to enjoy fifteen minutes of fame for his actions, and when the hype died down, the museum was asked if there were going to be any charges pressed or action taken against Noh for defacing the art piece.

Source: Instagram

A representative from the museum answered, stating that the incident had happened so quickly that there wasn’t really time to reach in real time to the act. Afterwards, Noh left the museum and “Comedian” was quickly repaired, with the empty banana peel being replaced by a fresh banana.

No, Really – No Charges

The museum spokesperson confirmed that there was no intention of charging Noh with anything, and that they were happy to continue on with the exhibit as if nothing had happened. Cattelan was informed of the incident, but has done nothing about it.

Source: Instagram/angela_dapper

The incident regarding “Comedian” could even be seen as a publicity stunt, by skeptical minds. The viral video has certainly brought the art piece to far more people’s attention than would have known about “Comedian” before, and it’s nearly certain that if and when “Comedian” is sold again, it will fetch an even higher price than it has in the past.

Art Exists Independent of Perceived Meaning

While there are many who might not understand “Comedian” or what it represents, that’s the point of art. Art can be anything that you want it to be, and because of the subjective nature of all artistic expression, there will be some who appreciate it and some who don’t.

Source: Youtube/CBS

“Comedian” might be a more abstract expression of human thought and creativity, but it draws attention to the fine line between art and absurdity. Viewers of “Comedian” have strong reactions one way or the other – and some might be tempted to eat it again in the future – but it’s surely inspired at least one potential artist who’s walked away and thought “I could do better than that.” After all, it’s only a banana.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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