Art: beware of bananasby Director Ferruccio Gard
Hear ye, hear ye! The art world has had its first “Bananagate”, with the sweet fruit being a symbol for consumerism and, especially in this case, sex. The main protagonist, or rather, victim of the incident is an internationally famous Polish artist, Natalia LL, one of the torch-bearers of feminism, whose works expose male violence against women and the excesses of consumerism. In a very straightforward fashion, Natalia uses bananas and sausages, which she bites, licks, sucks, and so forth - with obvious double entendre. So, following the complaint of a shocked mother who had taken her child to the Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum) in Warsaw, the museum’s director, Jerzy Miziolek, decided to remove Natalia LL’s videos, as well as artworks by feminist artist Katarzyna Kozyra and the duo Karolina Wiktor and Aleksandra Kubiak, deeming them “indecent and counter-educational”. Not only did the decision arouse strong criticism from the Polish cultural elite, but hundreds of people protested in public squares and outside the museum, many wielding bananas and chanting “No banagate” to make their point, which led the museum to reinstate the controversial artworks. The latter, it should be noted, are part of the museum’s permanent collection and have previously been on display at the Tate Gallery in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Moral of the story: legitimate artistic freedom has been respected. And the museum, after so much fuss, has seen a considerable increase in visitor numbers. Natalia LL must therefore be commended for having indirectly extended an invitation to appreciate art. Bananas work in mysterious ways.