Duct-taped durian for $160,000 anyone? Singapore organisations parody banana wall art

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Durian and dessert shop 99 Old Trees posted a picture of a durian taped to a wall after news of a US$120,000 (S$163,000) banana taped to a wall was sold and then eaten. PHOTOS: 99 OLD TREES/FACEBOOK, EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - If a banana duct-taped to a wall can sell for US$120,000 (S$163,000), how much could a durian, a defibrillator, or even a traffic cone taped in a similar way fetch?

Local organisations have been posing similar questions in tongue-in-cheek posts on their social media pages after news of the banana taped to a wall was sold for that amount to a French collector and then eaten by another artist.

The banana artwork, titled Comedian, was done by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and is on display at Art Basel in Miami Beach, Florida.

Many businesses and netizens have since weighed in on the debate over the value of the banana artwork.

In Singapore, durian and dessert shop 99 Old Trees posted a picture of a durian taped to a wall on its Facebook page on Monday (Dec 9).

Titled Durian Tape To White Wall, with a $163,056 price tag, the store said of the photo in Facebook: "Looks like art, smells like fart... A durian bondage art as a reminder of our forefathers' past struggles. The duct tape signifies the oppression from our colonial past."

The shop added that the piece includes duct tape and a 2.15kg Mao Shan Wang durian that was expected to rot in three days. But fans of the wall will be out of luck - the structure is not included, although the store did cheekily suggest in a reply to a netizen that for another $50, it could be thrown in.

99 Old Trees' manager Kelvin Tan told The Straits Times that when store staff first saw Cattelan's banana art, "we found it amusing how he managed to push the boundaries of what constitutes art, so we thought of poking fun at it by using durians".

"There were people who casually made offers, but we are assuming they are just joking," he added.

Asked if the store would mind people ripping the durian off the wall and eating it as a form of art, as performance artist David Datuna did to Cattelan's artwork on Saturday, Mr Tan said: "We definitely don't mind... except the bad news is, the duct tape wasn't strong enough to hold the durian. The durian fell off and was unfortunately sold off for way less than $163,056."

Fans of the piece can rest easy though, as the store is considering installing a replacement durian.

Even the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) joined in with its own parody of the banana art. On Tuesday, it posted a photo of an automated external defibrillator (AED) taped to a wall and dubbed the piece Lifesaver (2019).

SCDF said: "This 'art piece' does not come at a shocking price. But, as we always say, you cannot put value to a life saved.

"You may have come across these 'wall art' installations in your housing estates though they are usually safely stowed in metal casings. AEDs are now readily available at HDB estates thanks to the Save-A-Life Initiative, with an AED for every two HDB blocks."

The Clean and Green Singapore campaign, which aims to get locals to care for and protect the environment, also put its own spin on the banana matter.

On Monday, it posted on Facebook a photo of the fruit duct-taped to a wall with "+$120,000" captioned on it next to a picture of a banana peel on the ground with the caption "-$2,000", reminding the public of the maximum fine for littering for first-time offenders.

"There's a fine line between fine art and a fine mess," it added.

Besides 99 Old Trees, other private companies that jumped on the banana bandwagon include insurer Manulife Singapore and local event support specialist S-Lite Group.

On Monday, Manulife posted a photo of a duct-taped dragon fruit and mangosteen, linking them to health, while on Tuesday, S-Lite put up a photo of a traffic cone with its logo, "taped" to a grass turf.

S-Lite's marketing manager Elphin Yeo told ST: "The Cattelan Banana was such a simple idea, yet it was able to capture so much of the world's attention. In a way, that's what we seek to do with our events, so this accurately captures our ethos."

Elsewhere in the world, other brands also got their creative juices going and shared their own takes on the banana art, including fast-food chain Popeyes Chicken, supermarket chain Carrefour and beverage giant Pepsi.

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