Brunswick street sculpture almost lost its mind
On Saturday, November 27, Victoria Police reported that a 1.8 meter high fiberglass sculpture of a skull-faced, semi-peeled anthropomorphic banana was vandalized on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.
The piece, by artist Adam Stone – one in a long history of controversial banana-related art – had only been in place at the corner of Rose and Brunswick streets for two weeks when it was the victim of ‘an unknown vandal, who took the coin. with a hacksaw Friday night.
The incident was captured on CCTV and published the next day by Victoria Police. The banana survived the attack. Council officers inspected the work and Stone fixed it over the weekend. The play took 12 months to make and was commissioned by the city of Yarra and funded by a grant from the Traffic Accident Commission.
Stone said the disturbing fruit – made from steel, fiberglass, and automotive paint – was conceptually inspired by a brief line-fruit carving trend dominated by Japanese artist Kishimoto Takehiro, as well as the kitsch behemoths along Australian highways – the Big Banana, Pineapple, Shrimp and Friends. The work, he says, also talks about Western culture’s “innate pride-tendency toward unsustainable excesses – you’re coming back to the darker side.”
“The people of Melbourne, like most city dwellers, have a history of degraded public works,” said Justin Clemens, associate professor in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. In the early 1980s, the much-maligned “Vault,” a geometric (and, coincidentally, banana-yellow) steel sculpture by artist Ron Robertson-Swann, he says, was “commissioned at great expense, widely abused. , graffiti, chased out of (then) City Square, kept in a safe for years, before finally finding some rest and calm in the piss-stained sands next to the Australian Center for Contemporary Art, ” at Southbank.
“[Public art] is an assertion of money and power, as well as distraction and ornamental surplus, ”explains Clemens – which is also why public works tend to attract acts of willful destruction. Most taxpayers, Clemens believes, can more easily see the “multiplicities of use and enjoyment” offered by a new cycle path than by observing a menacing, inanimate banana “just resting”.
“$ 22,000 sounds like a lot,” he adds. “If you break it down, of course, it’s next to nothing” compared to what a bike path can cost. The banana carving has also provided employment for a painter, engineer, welder and other independent traders and small businesses as part of the council’s overall post-Covid recovery strategy.
Stone says he doesn’t recognize the person in the video and has no idea what sparked the attack, except perhaps for the more plausible “generally charged meaning of bananas in popular culture,” he said. suggests that the incident “was probably just a little misplaced young male energy – he probably thought that would be funny.”
“Bananas are hilarious – totally phallic, odd colors, a bit edible but also a bit abject – and if you slap a skull on one, that makes it even funnier,” says Clemens, who is not surprised that the Stone’s work has attracted this kind of attention.
While Stone will now have to spend part of his summer vacation undertaking banana repairs, he concedes that the attack gave the work an unexpected seriousness, sparking conversations about public funding and the arts. And while the attack left him “a little soft,” Stone says he would have preferred to have created “something that people notice and get people talking about rather than just disappear into the fabric of the streets.”
As of December 1, according to a spokesperson for Victoria Police, there had been no further developments and the case was still ongoing.