BENGALURU: Looks like bananas have been in the news this year. First it was Rahul Bose who raised the question on the price of the fruit at star hotels. And over the last week, the controversial banana art piece, titled ‘Comedian’ by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan saw performance artiste David Datuna going on to eat it. This has evoked mixed feelings in city-based artists.
Contemporary visual artist Romicon Revola feels that the work is in tune with the artist’s practice, especially since he works with readymade objects. “People are shocked because they expect art to be objects that decorate rich people’s homes or offices. Art is much more than that. It’s about communicating ideas in a non-verbal medium and about triggering curiosity and introspection. In this regard the banana has done a good job in starting a conversation around the world,” she says, adding that incidents like this help spread awareness about various experimental genres within contemporary art. “Marcel Duchamp was the forerunner in this genre of readymades. Mauricio Cattelan works within this genre and when seen in its context, yes, it’s a fun, irreverent work of art. The performance artist eating it adds another dimension to it,” she says.
Agrees city artist and art therapist Shan Re, saying the episode has created a lot of buzz in favour of artists. “He is an eminent artist. And a piece of work like this from him challenges audiences to pause and think about contemporary art. Any response from the public, whether good or not, creates a platform for conversations on art,” she says.
Deepa Subramanian, founder and creative head, Galerie De’Arts wonders if it was a gimmick. “But whatever it is, if there is one thing that came out of it, it is the fact that over-valuation of art has obscured the industry. Where a square meal is in question for many, the news of a Basquiat being sold for a $100 million or a Gaitonde being sold for £6,00,000 leaves people astounded. The hungry artist who tasted the $120,000 banana, of course, is not amused,” she says.