A South Korean art student ripped a banana off a wall that was part of an installation by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and ate it because “he was hungry.”
Noh Huyn-soo, an art major at Seoul National University, was recorded by his friend brazenly taking the ripe banana, which was duct-taped onto a white wall, and eating the fruit in front of other visitors at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul at around 1 p.m. local time on April 27.
In the video, Noh can be seen casually peeling the banana and eating it before reattaching its skin to the wall using the same tape. He then looks at the camera and smiles while pointing at it before walking away.
The 2019 artwork, titled “Comedian,” is a part of Cattelan’s solo exhibition “WE,” which is currently running at the Seoul-based museum until July 16, according to The Korea Herald.
When the museum asked for the student’s motive, Noh said that he was hungry as he had skipped breakfast.
However, he later confessed his true motives to the broadcaster KBS, saying that “damaging a work of modern art could also be [interpreted as] artwork.” Noh also said he reattached the banana peel as “a joke.”
“I thought it would be interesting … isn’t it taped there to be eaten?” Noh said, according to The Guardian.
When Cattelan was informed about the incident, he reportedly replied: “No problem.”
“It happened suddenly, so no special action was taken. The artist was informed of the incident but he didn’t have any reaction to it,” a museum spokesperson told CNN.
The banana is reportedly replaced every two to three days. The Italian artist is known for his satirical pieces that often provoke debates surrounding conceptual art.
The museum will not be claiming damages against Noh.
The incident is not the first time an individual has eaten the banana off of Cattelan’s artwork.
In 2019, performance artist David Datuna, who considered Cattelan to be a “genius,” also took the banana that was on display at the Perrotin at Art Basel in Miami just after the artwork was sold for $120,000. Two editions of “Comedian” were sold in Miami before a third was put up for sale for $150,000.
Datuna said his actions were not an act of vandalism, but rather an art performance.
“I have traveled in 67 countries around the world in the last three years, and I see how people live,” Datuna said. “Millions are dying without food. Then he puts three bananas on the wall for half a million dollars?”