Art Industry News: South Korean Student Thought a Museum Wanted Him to Eat the $120,000 Duct-Taped Banana + Other Stories

Plus, the New Museum puts the focus on Mire Lee and Damien Hirst raises funds for Uganda.

Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian after being eaten by Noh Huyn-soo and taped back on the wall at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul. Photo courtesy of Noh Huyn-soo.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Monday, June 26.


Barbican Embroiled in Censorship Fracas – London-based Resolve Collective is taking down their presentation at the arts center in the U.K. capital following what it reads as “an act of anti-Palestinian censorship.” A Barbican staff member told speakers due to take part in a talk on June 15 “to avoid talking about free Palestine at length…to further safeguard the audience,” according to a screenshot of the text message shared by Resolve Collective. The show was due to run until July 16 but the exhibition is expected to be taken down today, leaving the gallery empty. (The Art Newspaper)

Mire Lee Gets the Profile Treatment – The 34-year-old South Korean rising star who’s been featured in the Busan Biennale and the Venice Biennale is commanding solo real estate at New York’s New Museum. Opening on June 29, “Black Sun” will feature the artist’s new, unique machine sculptures that look like organs. “It feels almost like a digestive system of an organism…something that you don’t actually want to see,” said Cecilia Alemani, the artistic director of the 2022 Venice Biennale. And that’s exactly what the artist wants to achieve. “I like it to be a bit unpleasant,” she said. (New York Times)

Student Thought He Was Meant to Eat Cattelan’s Banana – Noh Hyun-soo, the South Korean student who ate the $120,000 banana duct-taped to the wall (Comedian) at Maurizio Cattelan’s retrospective at Seoul’s Leeum Museum in April, said no one tried to stop him from eating the piece. “I think they exhibited it so that someone would eventually eat it,” he wrote. Noh also confessed that eating that famous banana was not the first odd thing he has done over the years, and he plans to pursue art after graduating from his courses in religious studies and aesthetics. (Guardian)

U.K. Refused to Loan Fragile Vermeer to the Netherlands – Freedom of information request reveals that English Heritage, which operates the Kenwood House in London, refused to lend Vermeer’s The Guitar Player to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum for the recently concluded blockbuster, claiming that the 1672 painting housed in Kenwood was too fragile to travel. (Guardian)


Gwangju Biennale Announces Next Edition’s Theme – “Pansori – a soundscape of the 21st century” is set to be the title and theme of the 15th Gwangju Biennale, to be curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, the artistic director of the edition that will take place in September 2024. “Pansori,” which literally means “the sound of the public space,” is taken from a 17th century southwest Korean musical form accompanying shamanistic rituals. The current 14th edition of the biennale is on show until July 9. (Press release)

Nalini Malani Wins Kyoto Prize – Presented by the Inamori Foundation in Japan, the renowned video artist, along with reproductive biologist Ryuzo Yanagimachi and mathematician and physicist Elliot H. Lieb, are among the three awardees this year. The prize honors outstanding individuals in advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy every year. Each will be presented ¥100 million ($706,000) and a gold medal. (Artforum)


Damien Hirst Sells Art to Raise Funds for Uganda – All proceeds from the sale of three works—Toddler’s Cloud (2016), Eshara (2019), and Decahydronaphthalene (2019)—at the upcoming Phillips London auction on Friday, June 30, will go to the Ruwenzori Foundation in Uganda. (Press release)

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, Eshara, 2019. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2023

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