The removal of a video showing a woman eating a banana in Poland has caused an online backlash.
Poland’s National Museum in Warsaw has removed a video by a feminist artist, which has prompted artists and activists to share videos of themselves eating pieces of fruit.
The removed 1973 video Consumer Art, by artist Natalia LL - which had been on show in the gallery for several years - showed a young woman enjoying eating a banana. Later, another video showing a woman walking two men dressed like dogs on a lead, was also removed. The new museum head, Jerzy Miziolek, was then summoned to the Ministry of Culture.
The backwards move quickly prompted a viral response.
Hundreds of Poles uploaded photos of themselves eating a banana with the hashtag #bananaselfie to highlight how wrong it was to remove the feminist piece of artwork.
One artist, Karolina Gacke, wrote alongside her selfie: “I breathe, live and feel through art, and I think it’s one of the few things left, to help us deal with this messed up world. So of course, I had to be there, together with so many others,making our voices heard outside the National Museum of Warsaw! Fighting for free speech and the freedom of art! Yes, the banana is symbolic, as it was part of the artwork that the Minister of Culture ordered to be removed from the museum,”
Protesters gathered together in front of the museum, where they continued to make bananas trend with their photos.
Another protester shared a post explaining how the decision to remove the art had actually prompted an effective campaign, writing: “Party censorship, I have not seen such an effective campaign of modern art for a long time, My congratulations.”
So, why was the video such a big deal?
The museum is state-run by the very conservative and nationalist Polish government, which was elected in the Catholic country last year. Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has previously received criticism for cutting funds to arts festivals that were planning to show controversial theatre productions on Catholic themes. He also cut funding for the European Solidarity Centre, a museum and library which was popular with government critics, after argusing that its work went beyond its remit of teaching the history of Polish resistance movements.
Miziolek, who was appointed by the Ministry of Culture, said last week that he was “opposed to showing works that could irritate sensitive young people”. He also said that the gallery’s limited space requires creative changes.
However, on Monday (29 April) Miziolek announced that the works would be reinstated on 6 May.
Power to the banana.