Over the weekend, this reporter was nearly trampled because of a banana. Of course, it wasn't just any banana: It was the banana, a seemingly innocuous piece of fruit that, over the past 72 hours or so, went from being an 85-cent piece of produce to a $120,000 catch-all metaphor for American inequality, the rabid and inexplicable whims of social media hype, the vacuousness of the modern-art world, and the joy of pranking rich people for sport in 2019.
This past Saturday, mildly wobbly after two $25 glasses of champagne, I happened to be standing near the $120,000 banana at Art Basel inside the Miami Beach Convention Center when a low din erupted in the vicinity of the fruit. A rope cordoned off the banana, for which a ten-minute line for selfies stretched down the hallway, and a team of security guards ushered spectators away from the piece. It's unclear what exactly happened next — someone gasped or yelled, and then everyone within earshot whipped out a phone and rushed toward the banana, nearly flattening me. Earlier that day, someone (a man later revealed to be a New York City artist and gallerist) had ripped the banana from the wall and eaten it, and a sort of banana-related hysteria had since taken over the crowd. Maybe someone would next smash the replacement banana or, I don't know, use lipstick to write a Jeffrey Epstein reference above it. In this case, someone had just nudged the thing and everyone started hooting and demanding more carnage.
Then Miami Beach police arrived. The officers — a C- or D-level-looking squad of at least five slow-moving cops who seemed fit only for desk duty — looked on in amusement. One woman asked the oldest-looking of the officers why a gigantic crowd had gathered.
"People keep messing with the banana," the cop said with a shrug.
The banana — officially titled Comedian — stole this year's show and is essentially the only work of art that capital-M Mattered at Miami Art Week 2019. But there was a lot of other incredible nonsense on display for rich people. Come along as we recap the most horrifying things for sale at Miami's
mecca for obvious money laundering world-class series of annual art fairs. Let the awards begin!
The "Painting That Will Wind Up in an FBI Locker After a Predawn Criminal Raid" Award: The Juice Is Loose, Baby!
This piece, on display at Art Miami, emanated a cursed energy that cannot be encapsulated in photos. No one wanted to look at this thing. Frankly, I felt ashamed even taking a photo of it. It was jammed into a corner of this vendor's gallery space as if they themselves did not want to stare at it.
But, of course, one must know one's clientele — and Art Week is a weeklong convention pitched at the sort of people who sell human organs in Moldova or conspicuously defend their decisions to continue funding Woody Allen's film career in 2019. This might or might not be up for resale because Roger Stone's house got raided last year.
The "Taxes Are Too Low in America" Award: This Sign
The minute you spend $25,000 or whatever the price at Art Basel for a big sign that reads, "Help the needy," a team of IRS agents should rappel from the ceiling, handcuff you, seize all of your assets, and use them to build a shelter for homeless children.
The "Best Piece of Art That Approximated Being Stuck in a K-Hole" Award: A Video of Julia Child Cooking Eggs
This so-called artwork was simply a video of Julia Child making eggs. Every time she added an ingredient, a voiceover narrator would name it. This went on for some time. As the narration progressed, revealing nothing about the video other than the fact that Julia Child had added chives to an omelet, one began to feel themselves dissociating from reality.
The "Thing That Did Not Need to Have an Anatomically Correct Penis" Award: Whatever This Thing Is
The "Best Use of Disney Iconography as a Metaphor for American Capitalism" Award: Postapocalyptic Winnie the Pooh, Having Forsaken God, Prays at the Altar of Mammon
The "Horniest Art" Award: This Guy
The worm is making direct eye contact with, in the worm's eyes, a miniature man humping its home.
The "Saying the Quiet Part Loud" Award: A Big Wolf of Wall Street Photo for You to Do Cocaine Under
As mentioned in the above O.J. Simpson entry, Miami Art Week is something of an odd place, in that people who obviously love money and cocaine peruse items made by artists who explicitly hate their clients. Your $18,000 sculpture re-creating the horrors you experienced at the hands of Bosnian warlords in the 1970s will wind up in the home of someone who got rich creating an app that lets landlords remotely execute the homeless. No one buying anything at Miami's art fairs appears to be a good or decent human being.
This monstrosity of a photo at least knows its audience: the thousands upon thousands of retired white guys wearing Armani Exchange, browsing art fairs with girlfriends four decades their junior, and praying for something, anything, to make them feel like a wolf again because their doctor said if they do anymore cocaine, their hearts with explode.
The "This Cost $3,200" Award: Ted!
This painting of Ted from the Seth MacFarlane film series Ted — in which a cartoon bear voiced by The Family Guy guy jokes about sickle cell anemia and "black-guy sperm" spilling all over Mark Wahlberg — was priced at $3,200.
The "Possible Bestiality" Award: Man and Chicken, Together at Last
The "Actual Bestiality" Award: A Child Having Sex With a Goat
The "Look at What Kanye West Did This Year" Award: Silver Yeezy
Kanye West in a head-to-toe chrome look for Miami performance. pic.twitter.com/VrppbqYwpu— Pop Crave (@PopCraveMusic) December 9, 2019
We're not in Kanye anymore pic.twitter.com/Q2t5E0E8oP— Carl Mitchell (@GustyCarl1973) December 9, 2019
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I want gold Cee lo Green to fight chrome Kanye West pic.twitter.com/dvHRxiBu0q— mason more jelly (@balloutboy305) December 9, 2019
And, of course, Shit Blob:
Shit Blob! Happy Basel to you and yours.