Updated: Mar 23, 2020
An Italian artist named Maurizio Cattelan participated at Art Basel Miami, held at Galerie Perrotin. This year the art world and the internet was taken by storm by the absurdity of events that took place fuelled by the help of memes. What happened was an artist exhibited and sold what is arguably “artwork” consisting of a banana being duck taped to the white wall. The piece blew up online due to its simplistic nature and additionally due to the media frenzy. If the piece wasn't controversial enough, a performance artist (not associated with Cattelan or the Art fair) calmly took the artwork off the wall and then ate the banana. In total there were three "editions" of the work on show, each of them sold for a staggering $120,000 a piece. The bananas came fully equipped with legitimate artwork certificates and “replacement instructions” due to the perishable nature of the work. The saga continued furthering the frenzy as another person Rod Webber, a Boston local, visual artist and filmmaker “vandalised” the wall on which the banana (that was eaten) was presented by spray-painting “Epstein didn’t kill himself”. He was then arrested and put in jail overnight. What Webber was referring to depicted meme culture at its finest. Its 2019, memes now live outside the binding constructs of the internet. He referred to a conspiracy theory around the death of Jeffrey Epstein:
“"Epstein didn't kill himself" is an Internet meme about the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was a controversial figure with connections to several prominent figures, and his reported suicide generated numerous conspiracy theories about the nature and cause of his death. Gaining traction on social media, the meme speculating that the American financier and convicted sex offender was murdered soon gained widespread prominence.” - Wikipedia.
The farcical nature of this story isn't too ludicrous considering what we have come to witness within the art world. For years, art has been destroyed by cleaners in galleries where they did not think the work was art. A more recent and popular example would be the girl with a balloon artwork by Banksy. When it was finally auctioned off and sold at Sotheby for the whopping amount of $1.37 million (£1.04 million) the piece literally performed its own destruction. It shredded to pieces and did what Banksy does best: showcasing reality.
What Cattelan and Banksy have in common is their comedic approach. An example of the would be the solid gold toilet which he made worth 4.8 million pounds / $6million, installed in Blenheim Palace. Which was, as we can now only expect, stolen.
This is being referred to as a frenzy due to a huge audience of people having plenty to say about the matter, even to the point where “riots” had been reported to have taken place at the art fair. Of course, if anything in this world makes a wave, especially on the internet, brands are definitely willing and happy to get involved, seizing the opportunity to ride trends. Here we have a fine example of a Jacquemus’ iconic miniature bag has succumb to the same treatment as said banana. Even Nokia hopped on the wave.