This photograph, taken on Saturday morning by an veteran photographer with an enviable eye for “le moment décisif,” documents a temporary art installation.
Very temporary. Shortly after the image was shot, the duct tape holding the banana to the telephone pole near the corner of Austin Street and Pershing in Truth or Consequences loosened. The fruit, whose Day-Glo skin color and penile shape has inspired artists around the globe since the rise of graffiti art in the 1960s, fell to the sidewalk, bruised and mushy. It is unknown whether its siblings, placed in prominent spots around downtown, survived long enough to be enjoyed by Second Saturday Art Hop patrons that evening.
The giveaway that the banana was meant to be taken as an artwork was the choice of duct tape as a fixative. Two years last December, an Italian artist named Maurizio Cattelan duct-taped a banana to a wall in an Art Basel Miami exhibition hall, and the piece, entitled “Comedian,” became an overnight sensation. Three certified copies were sold for nearly $400,000 to fair goers, who went home with instructions from the artist about how to keep replacing the banana.
The provenance of the banana as icon can be traced back to—who else?—Andy Warhol, the Pop Art master of transforming everyday objects into high art. In 1966, for the inaugural album of the Velvet Underground and Nico, a New York rock band founded by Lou Reed, Warhol designed a cover featuring a banana with whose peel-back skin revealed . . . click here. Warhol went on to make paintings, photographs and prints inspired by his first Banana. Beginning in the 1990s, the pseudonymous British-born Banksy frequently incorporated the fruit into his stenciled street art, burnishing the banana’s important place in art history.
The Sun has come into possession of the Pershing Street banana, which we have titled “Tragedian.” We will entertain bids for its acquisition and even throw in a roll of gray duct tape. Underbidders can content themselves with this handsome reproduction.
—Commentary by Tom Hinson, editor, Photograph of the Week
Editor’s Note: Click on the photograph to view it in a light box for even greater clarity.
Professional, amateur and phone-camera photographers alike are invited to submit images to the Sierra County Sun for possible publication in the Sun’s “Photograph of the Week” feature. The deadline for consideration is every Friday at 5 p.m. For further information, click on the Help Us Report button on our home page and then check the box labeled “I want to submit a photo to Photograph of the Week.”