Last December, the piece of art that made the biggest splash at Art Basel Miami Beach was, improbably, Maurizio Cattelan’s conceptual sculpture Comedian, which consisted of a single banana duct taped to a wall. However, the banana might not have made nearly as big of a splash if it wasn’t for the artist David Datuna, who strolled up the sculpture and proceeded to eat it. The incident caused a huge splash in the press, and catapulted Comedian’s cultural status beyond flash-in-the-pan: for the latest issue of Garage magazine, Cattelan, still capitalizing on the notoriety that “bananagate” caused, turned model Kendall Jenner into sculpture for the cover. Datuna is getting his fair share of work too: on Thursday, his new show “Hungry Artist” will open at Ca’d Oro gallery in New York.
In an Instagram post announcing the exhibition, Datuna commented on the performative consumerism that made him more recognizable on a global scale. “What I started with the Hungry Artist in Miami is a new way of communication and a revolution of consciousness,” Datuna said. “What we perceive as materialism is nothing but social conditioning. Any meaningful interaction with an object could turn it to art. I am a hungry artist, and I am hungry for new interactions.” Notably, Datuna’s exhibition, which consists of bodega snacks affixed to the gallery walls that visitors are encouraged to eat, bears a distinct similarity to the Darren Bader exhibition that’s currently on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art: “Fruits, Vegetables; Fruit and Vegetable Salad.”
In Bader’s exhibition, real fruits and vegetables on display in the museum are periodically collected by museum staff, who use the perishables to create a fruit salad in the Studio Cafe Kitchen that is then served back to visitors. The intellectual parallelism on display between Datuna and Bader indicates that within today’s hyper-financial art world, visitors to museums and galleries are perhaps just looking for something simple to engage with. After all, art is supposed to “feed” everyone equally. Why shouldn’t it do so literally?