Perfect weather helped to draw big crowds to Art in the Park at Willistead Park on the weekend.
We’ve all been there: wandering the halls of an art museum, when suddenly hunger strikes. But when one South Korean art student got peckish at the Leeum Museum Art in Seoul, he made the bold decision to eat one of the artworks: Comedian, a banana taped to the wall by the notoriously prankster artist Maurizio Cattelan.
“The student told the museum he ate it because he was hungry,” a spokesperson for the Leeum told CNN. “It happened suddenly, so no special action was taken. The artist [Cattelan] was informed of the incident but he didn’t have any reaction to it.”
Noh Huyn-soo, a student of aesthetics and religion at Seoul National University, had a friend record a video of him eating Cattelan’s Comedian. Someone can be heard in the background shouting “excuse me” as Noh removes the banana from the wall. It took just over a minute for him to consume the fruit, after which he taped the peel back on the wall and smiled for the camera.
“There was a buzzer sound when I got close to other works, but there was no problem with Comedian when I got close,” Noh told Artnet News in an Instagram message. “After eating the banana, I went back to looking around. The banana was fresh.”
It’s not the first time such a fate has befallen Comedian. The infamous conceptual artwork, which absurdly elevates an inexpensive perishable item into the realm of fine art, debuted at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair in 2019, on sale for an eyebrow-raising $120,000 from the gallery Perrotin.
The piece became an immediate sensation, with two editions selling in the early hours of the fair’s VIP opening. Then, Perrotin hiked the price to $150,000 for the third edition. As word of Comedian spread, the booth had to set up a velvet rope in front of it as a means of crowd control—but such measures didn’t stop artist David Datuna from unsticking the work from the wall, and promptly peeling and eating it.
“I have traveled in 67 countries around the world in the last three years, and I see how people live. Millions are dying without food. Then he puts three bananas on the wall for half a million dollars?” Datuna said to the Guardian. He claimed that eating the notorious sculpture was not vandalism, but a performance art piece in its own right—which he christened Hungry Artist. (He later teamed up with Dole on a banana-themed NFT.)
Noh had similar thoughts about his actions. “In a way, Cattelan’s work is a rebellion against a certain authority. But in fact, it could be another rebellion against rebellion… I wondered how the damaged work could become a work in a way,” he told KBS News. “Isn’t it taped there to be eaten?”
In both incidents, Cattelan was unfazed. Eating the banana cannot destroy the work, he said in 2019, because “the banana is the idea.” The incident at the Leeum Museum was “no problem at all,” he told the BBC.
Neither the artist nor the gallery opted to press charges against Datuna, who died in May 2022. But the next day, the gallery had to remove the installation, which the fair dubbed “a serious health and safety risk,” from view.
In Seoul, it took about 30 minutes for the Leeum Museum staff to procure and install a new banana. (Normally, the fruit is changed every two or three days.) The institution has no plans to pursue disciplinary action against Noh.
Comedian is one of 38 works by Cattelan on view in his first South Korean solo show. The exhibition, which opened in January, is the largest showing of the artist’s work since his 2011 retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. An anonymous donor gifted an edition of the Comedian to the institution in 2020.
In creating the artwork, Cattelan had originally experimented with creating a banana sculpture in bronze and resin before ultimately deciding that the genuine article couldn’t be topped. The gallery was dispatched to a local supermarket to buy a banana and to carefully affix to the wall according to his precise specifications—about 68 inches above the ground, at a 37-degree angle.
If you own the artwork, you are responsible for sourcing both the banana and the tape, but you do get the instruction manual for installing it, as well as a certificate of authenticity. Among the collectors are Billy and Beatrice Cox—who promised to donate theirs to a museum—and Sarah Andelman. Perrotin held on to two artist proofs, despite numerous offers, including from Damien Hirst.
Cattelan is currently battling a lawsuit from American artist Joe Morford, who claims Comedian infringes on his copyright for the 2000 artwork Banana & Orange. Both works feature a banana duct taped to the wall at a similar angle. Cattelan has maintained that he never saw the earlier work.
“Maurizio Cattelan: We” is on view at the Leeum Museum of Art, 60-16, Itaewon-ro, 55-gil, Yongsan-gu, 140-893 Seoul, South Korea, January 31–July 16, 2023.
Perfect weather helped to draw big crowds to Art in the Park at Willistead Park on the weekend.
“We like to say summer begins with Art on the Park,” said the organization’s chairman Allan Kidd.
The event, run by the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), is now in its 44th year and it continues to grow, he said.
“A hot day like this is perfect,” he said. “This is potentially another record crowd. We set a record last year,” with 27,000 paying attendees. “We’re on track to do that again.”
The annual show is attended by people from other provinces in Canada and Kidd noted one person who was familiar with Art in the Park when he lived in South Africa.
With 275 exhibitors and 15 musical performers, the event is a major fundraiser for the Rotary Club to support community projects around the world, Kidd said.
Last year, Art in the Park raised $80,000 to help with the maintenance and restoration of Willistead Manor, which itself provides the ideal setting for the event, he said. The Rotary Club also uses funds raised to support other causes.
“We’re a charitable group. We buy wheelchairs and we drill water wells and we build schools,” said Kidd , who noted people don’t realize the event supports charitable causes.
“There’s a disconnect in the public eye,” Kidd said. “I like to say this is our gift to the community. We have this festival, everybody comes (and) for a couple of bucks they have a ball. All of these people are philanthropists without knowing it.”
Solange Silivria of Windsor and friend Todd Mansell relaxed at a picnic table late Saturday. Silivria comes to the event every year.
“It’s something that I used to do every year with my mum and she has since passed,” she said. “I continue to do the tradition and come every single year and walk around. It’s something that she loved to do.”
Silivria’s mother, Charlene Evon, used to run Bart Evon Designer Furniture, in LaSalle.
“I always try to meet up with friends or bring friends and come and enjoy the lovely artwork and the amazing talent, and walk around and just enjoy the day,” she said.
Exhibitor Jasmine Samsair, a Windsor mixed-media abstract artist, put her work on display at the park for just the second year.
“I’ve always loved coming to Art in the Park,” she said. “I didn’t know there was such a market for abstract art. I thought why not give it a shot. I actually ended up doing really well last year and it was just so great meeting so many people.”
Art in the Park is a good opportunity to get artists’ work in front of the public, she said.
“Even if I don’t make any sale… the biggest thing that I find is exposure. I find that doing Art in the Park, the main thing was people discovering you, noticing your work and getting your name out there.”
It was a lovely weekend for a stroll in the park and more than 20,000 people had the same idea for this year’s Art in the Park at Willistead Park in Windsor, Ont.
The two-day festival features 275 different art vendors, food and ice cream trucks and music from a number of performing artists.
“It’s a wonderful thing because we see that our artists and our performers are being supported and that means a lot to us,” said Aggie Sarafianos, who hasn’t missed a single year of Art in the Park since it started back in 1979.
“The history, the atmosphere, the feeling that you get when you’re here is just second to none,” she said. “The camaraderie of the neighborhood is here, it’s very blatant.”
Vendors seemed quite pleased with the turnout, reporting strong sales this weekend.
“We’re told that it’s the best organized festival that we go to, so we love to hear that,” said Allan Kidd, the chair of Art in the Park, indicating they will try to squeeze in 300 vendors next year.
The event is put on by the Rotary Club of Windsor, with proceeds going to restoring Willistead Manor, digging water wells in Africa, and buying wheelchairs for kids in Windsor.
“Everybody that comes in here has a good time but they are all philanthropists because I can’t do it without them,” said Kidd. “Every dollar is put to good use cause we’re all volunteers. We’re grateful for the public and I think they love what we do too.”
To reveal what happens inside Tomás Saraceno’s new show for the Serpentine Gallery is hardly a spoiler. Nothing could lessen the impact. In galleries of pitch darkness, spotlights pick out an unfolding sequence of ethereal silver visions, all of them apparently floating in midair.
One spreads like the Milky Way – points of light gathering in cosmic drifts. Another hovers like spectral morning mist. A third has a gleaming upright disc at its centre, woven of what seems to be the most exiguous gauze of metal threads, held in place by barely visible guy lines.
They appear to be drawings in thin air; and yet they are also sculptures – silk structures so tremulous and fine they shiver in the circumambient air. To learn how they are made (and who made them) is still to know nothing at all of the mysterious workings of the artists themselves – none other than several rare species of spider.
Saraceno is the great spider man of contemporary art. Born in Argentina in 1973, he trained first as an architect, and one senses his profound appreciation of the way spiders create buildings as works of art. So much so that he has not boxed in their structures. There is no glass. Whisper ever so slightly and these webs move with your breath. The wonder they engender is exactly what stops you from reaching out to touch.
These spiders, who create such beauty, have very poor sight. They do not hear as we do either. Visitors can sit in a repurposed confessional box staring closely at a spectacular web that hangs where the priest would usually sit; through the wooden seat run occasional tremors. This is roughly what the spider senses of the world as it works. Saraceno’s marvellous installation is a form of synaesthesia as homage: you witness the web while experiencing intermittent vibrations and blinking through a filigree grille.
A riveting film, in another gallery, shows the spider diviners of western Cameroon at work with clay pots and cards made of distinctively incised leaves. These cards are effectively the answers to vital questions asked by local people (or perhaps even by you too, now that Saraceno has built the diviners a website through which you can correspond). The spiders move the cards to give their wisdom. It feels as strange and mythical as the Oracle at Delphi.
By now, having surrendered your mobile phone on entry to some charming artists who return it with a divination card on exit, you will have realised that webs are a metaphor for the way Saraceno works. The spiders have answers that no phone can give; no phone can capture the magical webs. And phones involve batteries that require lithium, subject of another of Saraceno’s art campaigns, and of a beautifully shot film screening in the central rotunda.
This concerns the Indigenous communities of Jujuy in Argentina who are fighting for the preservation of vital land and water threatened by the relentless mining for lithium to supply our wretched batteries. The narrative of words, images, protests and interviews is deeply absorbing. And, not incidentally, you will also see a flotilla of black balloons (sculptures, too, in their way) that are powered to fly across the sparkling white salt flats of Jujuy using solar energy. These are another of Saraceno’s attempts to find a way, as he puts it, “to levitate without any violence to the earth”. His flight in 2020 broke 32 records and was then the longest fossil-free flight in history.
One side of the Serpentine Gallery is entirely open to the green landscape outside. Animals of all sorts are welcome (there is a ladder for squirrels, a house for birds, welcoming sculptures of dogs, deer and hedgehogs). Children have their own secret gallery. The roof is laid with solar panels to supply energy. Pedal the bicycles outside and you power up the voices of Jujuy on headphones.
Saraceno’s work is as delicate and involving as the webs he displays. Artist, scientist, activist, philosopher, inventor, composer, he is a Renaissance mind for the 21st century. And what is so striking about this captivating exhibition, in all its generosity, is that Saraceno believes that everyone else is as curious and optimistic as he is: that art can have active agency.
It is 10 years since Tate Britain last reorganised its collection, a decade so turbulent even art institutions could not remain heedless. The new rehang embraces many more women and artists of colour, introduces much more historical context about patronage, society, race, class and politics, and stints (mercifully) on Bacon, Hockney, Freud et al, who scarcely need further enlargement. There are sufficient new names, overdue revivals and close-focus galleries – an electrifying William Blake, a fascinating room of one’s own devoted to Woolf-era women – as to educate the mind and eye and renew the experience.
The faults are many and obvious. Above all, this rehang treats artworks as documents. An 18th-century tea party allows for sermonising on tea (imperialism), sugar (slavery) and servants (oppressed), but the picture itself is atrocious. George Stubbs and Samuel Palmer are told off for ignoring rural conditions in their spellbinding harvests and twilights. Annie Swynnerton gets a whole room for her cloyingly awful art because she was a suffragist who painted Millicent Fawcett.
And for a rehang more interested in history than art, it’s oddly erratic. Thin on the English civil war, say; Waterloo, the welfare state, LGBTQ+ rights. As for the spelling: Magna Carter?
But the Duveen Galleries are terrific: Vong Phaophanit’s 1993 neon rice field in its mysterious glowing dunes; Rachel Whiteread’s mind-splitting cast of a double staircase, labyrinthine and vertiginous; Susan Hiller’s reprise of the walls of sudden and heroic deaths from London’s Postman’s Park.
The rooms are jewel-coloured and densely hung. All the old favourites remain – Turner, Gainsborough, Constable, the pre-Raphaelites – alongside sharp recent purchases: the haunting interiors of Iraqi painter Mohammed Sami; Zineb Sedira’s superbly wry films (early hit of the last Venice Biennale); Lydia Ourahmane’s haunting oil barrel installation – the first artwork legally to leave Algeria since it gained independence in 1962, with its redolent scent and its ghostly inner music, which finally reached here in 2014.
It will all change again – and quite possibly should, in much less than a decade this time. Some of the texts will have dated by then, some of the biases faded. But in the meantime, this rehang opens its arms to the present. The art can hold its own against the preaching any day, after all. Just look more and read less.
Star ratings (out of five)
Tomás Saraceno: Web(s) of Life ★★★★★
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