Ban on banana-eating artwork draws ridicule in Poland
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s artists and opposition politicians are posting photos of themselves eating bananas in protest after the country’s authorities called an artwork featuring the fruit obscene and removed it from a top national gallery.
The 1973 video “Consumer Art,” by prominent artist Natalia LL, showing a young woman eating a banana with great pleasure, was removed from the National Museum in Warsaw last week after the new museum head, Jerzy Miziolek, was summoned to the Ministry of Culture.
Miziolek said in an interview with the Onet.pl portal last week that he was “opposed to showing works that could irritate sensitive young people” and suggested some visitors had complained. The work had been in the gallery for many years.
A separate video by another controversial female artist was also removed.
On Monday, he announced that the works would be reinstated, but only until May 6 when the whole modern art gallery is due for reorganization. He denied pressure from the ministry.
Miziolek, who was appointed to the state-run museum in November, said Monday he appreciated the role of both artists in Poland’s culture, but the gallery’s limited space requires “creative changes” to the exhibition.
The dispute is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding art and culture under the conservative and nationalist government.
Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has repeatedly drawn criticism for cutting subsidies to art festivals that were planning to show controversial theater plays on Catholic themes. Glinski has fired a popular theater director who criticized him.
He also recently cut funds for the European Solidarity Center, an exhibition and culture center popular with government critics, saying its activity went beyond its history-teaching mission.
Twitter and Facebook users ridiculed the ban as narrow-minded and a case of censorship, and many posted photos of themselves enjoying bananas.
Actress Magdalena Cielecka told The Associated Press that the image she posted, of her pointing a banana at her head like a gun, was in protest against any ideological or political limits put on artists.
“An artist, to create, must be free,” Cielecka said.
A collective banana-eating protest is planned Monday in front of the state-run museum, which is closed on Mondays.