A banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000 at Miami’s Art Basel, and I’m feeling very conflicted about it.
The fruit and tape in question was the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, and it literally is just a banana duct-taped to a wall, titled “The Comedian.” CBS News reports that there are actually three “editions” of the work of art, two of which have been sold. The third banana is expected to go for an even higher $150,000.
On the one hand, the hundred-thousand-dollar banana duct-taped to a wall is Good. People always like to dismiss modern art as simplistic, often remarking, “I could make that.” The go-to comeback to this statement is, “Yeah, but you didn’t.” Hate all you want, but you didn’t just make a couple hundred grand by attaching maybe a dollar’s worth of produce to the wall with three pieces of tape from a roll that couldn’t possibly have cost more than 10 bucks. Maurizio Cattelan did.
And, as a piece of art, “The Comedian” actually does have something to say. Emmanuel Perrotin—the founder of Perrotin, the gallery where the work was displayed—told CBS News that the piece is about how the meaning and importance of objects changes depending on the context.
“Whether affixed to the wall of an art fair booth or displayed on the cover of the New York Post, his work forces us to question how value is placed on material goods,” Perrotin said. “The spectacle is as much a part of the work as the banana.”
The art world can be ridiculous, and by using an object commonly associated with making clowns slip and fall, Cattelan is pretty explicitly poking fun at how arbitrary art can be sometimes. Also, the visual of a banana duct-taped to a wall is just inherently funny. I am amused by the banana duct-taped to a wall.
It also rocks that some joker spent $120,000 on a banana that will be rotten compost in like, two weeks, tops. The Miami Herald reports that Cattelan informed the buyers that they may replace the banana if they choose. This is incredible. Anybody who drops $120,000—a truly life-changing amount of money for most American families—on rotten fruit is a rich villain who deserves to be scammed.
And yet, that’s where maybe the banana duct-taped to a wall is Bad, actually. That money is going to the gallery, which is a willing participant in this whole farce. It’s going to Cattelan, who is famous for another one of his works, an 18-karat gold toilet titled “America” valued at $6 million that was recently stolen from England's Blenheim Palace. Cattelan seems like he’s doing fine. The money is not going to any number of other worthy artists or causes. It’s not going to banana farmers or, uh, duct tape manufacturers.
Here’s the central rub with the banana duct-taped to a wall. It is both a funny critique of the absurdities of art and capitalism, yet it is inherently part of that problem, too. It’s having your cake and eating it too (although maybe “having your banana bread” would be more appropriate here). Art is valuable and artists certainly deserve to be paid for their work. Nobody gets to define what isn’t art, and “The Comedian” is absolutely art. Heck, it might even be powerful art, given how much chatter it has already inspired. “The Comedian” is just laughing along with the people it’s making fun of, and that’s a bummer.
So, is the banana duct-taped to a wall Good or Bad? I don’t know, man. It’s higher in potassium than most art, so maybe let’s just say, by that metric, it’s Good.
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By Rachel Tashjian
15 Years Later, Here's Why A Gamer Was Duct-Taped To A Ceiling
Few photos from the forum ages of online gaming live in greater infamy than one of what appears to be a human duct taped to the ceiling of a dimly lit basement, his arms reaching out to lightly graze the keys of a Dell mechanical keyboard.
Many have laid claim to this image. “I was there,” they say. “It was me, I took this photo,” others declared. We reached out to those people—most didn’t respond or couldn’t provide proof. But one thread surfaced: a group of small-town gamers who hauled computers to each other’s houses to play, among other games, Counter-Strike.
The picture in question originates from Mason, Michigan, where a close group of friends who liked to build personal computers and organize LAN parties grew up. Through Reddit and email, we were able to get in touch with a large portion of the group, as well as obtain verification and additional images.
Through all our interviews, members of the group laughed at the claims of Internet fakers and commenters.
“I don’t want to say it’s a closely guarded secret,” said Brian Schaeffer, one of the LAN goers. “But half the fun of seeing that picture pop up on the internet is all the stories where people say, ‘Oh yeah I know the people there.’ No you don’t! It was a small town, a random group of friends, and we literally just got goofy one day.”
The group told me they would hang out together in various houses and, sometimes, even a tire warehouse, lugging computer rigs to locations to play a variety of games. It was the summer of 2002, and at the time, Counter-Strike was the game to play. Others recount games like Command & Conquer, both Renegade and Red Alert 2, as well as Battlefield 1942 (for those with the 512 MB RAM to run it) and StarCraft custom games. Counter-Strike was the great equalizer. It could run on just about anything, and everyone had it.
For the Mason alumni, the night they taped Drew Purvis to the ceiling was just an average day, another LAN party with friends.
“It was still early in the day and the LAN had already become fractured,” said Nick Wellman, another LAN goer. “There were about 10 of us there, and we were already playing three, four different games. Tyler was looking around and said, ‘I think you can duct tape someone to that I-beam.’”
At this point, the teens gathered the necessary supplies, bought duct tape on a friend’s employee discount and had the tallest attendee, Brian, hold the subject, Drew, aloft while the rest taped him up.
What you see in the now-iconic photo is actually the group’s second attempt to suspend their friend from the ceiling with duct tape. After about 10 minutes, the tape digging into his sides, Drew asked to be cut down. They revised their plan, adding pillows, and strapped him back up. Once on the beam, someone else had the idea to stack some tables up so Drew could still play on his computer.
“That is the funniest part about the picture,” Nick told us. “Gaming from the beam was a complete afterthought.”
Drew lasted about two hours suspended above his comrades before retiring to the ground (turns out a duct tape cocoon runs hot).
Brian, who happened to bring along his digital camera from photography class that day, saved some snapshots to commemorate the moment. Drew posted the photos to a gaming forum, where it would stay duct-taped to the memories of gamers for all eternity. (We reached out to Drew for this story, and made contact, but he didn’t get back to us in time before publishing.)
“We tried to keep a list of all the places we saw the picture pop up, but it just kept started showing up in more and more places,” said Brian. “It also speaks to how when something’s on the internet, it’s always going to be up there, you can’t hide it.”
For the Mason alumni, it’s a little reminder of a simpler time.
“It’s so funny, because if you see the Reddit threads, every time this picture goes around every couple years it’s like a little Mason reunion,” said Jonathan Watrous, another LAN-goer.
Those mini-reunions in the comment sections of this picture help keep the group together and caught up, long after it splintered and scattered to the wind. Some still try to get together, either online through modern games like League of Legends or in-person.
“Not quite LAN parties,” said Brian of recent Mason get-togethers. “We’ve done some of those, but we’re all adults. Dragging the rigs around aren’t quite as easy as it was back then, and we’re all adults now, too. We had more time back then.”
The photo remains an indelible reminder of a time when rigs were dragged into basements and parents were kept awake by the mechanical clacking of keys to the cadence of Counter-Strike.
“I don’t see most of the people in the picture all that often, but this was before smartphones and ubiquitous social media,” said Nathan Gamber, another LAN attendee. “So it’s one of the few moments in that time that we’re reminded of every couple years.”
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Funny side of duct tape has sticking power
When Glenn Beck, talk radio host, recites some too-dumb-to-be-believed item from the news, he runs sound effects of himself tearing off large strips of duct tape, which he purports to be wrapping around his head to keep his skull from exploding from the utter stupidity of the news items.
Duct tape. It's one of those products that are just--well, funny. Why?
Scotch tape isn't funny. Wd-40 isn't funny. Masking tape? Nope. But duct tape?
Garrison Keillor, host of radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," touts duct tape as the "old reliable" for everything from repairing Lamborghinis to performing heart surgery, in fictitious ads by the fictitious American Duct Tape Council.
Why is it so funny? There's a live Web cam you can watch, of a pile of duct tape sitting in an aquarium, doing nothing, accompanied by the message: "Hit reload on your browser to get the latest image if the duct tape isn't responding right now."
Of course it isn't responding. It's just ordinary sticky tape, right? Perhaps unusually phlegmatic in its stodgy tapeness, but sidesplitting? No.
Duct tape is a Serious Product, with Serious Uses. We canvassed locals to confirm that, for example, without duct tape we would have Cat Hair on the Davenport.
According to Laura Jacoby, duct tape, wrapped sticky side out around the bottom parts of chairs and couches is an excellent cat repellent.
"They really don't like the feel of the stickiness on their paws," Jacoby reports. But she wasn't finished. "When you get really tired of finding the toilet seat up (don't men ever learn?), duct tape will hold it down quite firmly and give the offender something to think about."
Jacoby's friend John uses duct tape to reinforce his work pants knees from the inside when they ripped two years ago. "He's never washed his work pants (in two years--yuck) so he doesn't know if they'd survive sudsing, but he says the duct tape gets softer with aging."
Many locals report that beauty contest participants tape their boobs up and out with duct tape--after "desticking" it a bit first by pressing the tape onto terry cloth towels.
Barbara Flores says that all of her husband Jaime's home decorating efforts involve duct tape. "Not even gray duct. Red duct tape. On our windows, in the refrigerator door slats, even on broken tree branches and car upholstery."
Bob Rudolph has fixed a broken radiator hose with it while deer hunting many miles from civilization and had the repair hold for the rest of the hunting trip and the next six months. He says that duct tape is also known as 100 mile per hour tape, 200 mile per hour tape, helicopter tape and missile tape.
According to a study published recently in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, science now confirms what many people claim to have long known, that duct tape zaps warts. Put duct tape on your wart and leave it there for six days. Take off the tape, soak the wart in water and then file it down a bit with a pumice stone. Put new tape on. Continue until the warts are gone.
Said Dr. Dean R. Focht III, who undertook the research during his recent residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash.: "We don't know for sure why it works, but it may involve stimulation of the patient's immune system through local irritation."
Before it achieved its latest use as low-cost health care ($4.89 a roll), duct tape was a lowly sticky tape. It was invented in World War II, when Johnson & Johnson came up with a sticky fabric-backed tape to keep military ammunition cases dry. Because it is waterproof ("like water off a duck's back"), it was called duck tape. Soldiers soon discovered it was also good to repair Jeeps, guns and tires.
When the war ended, it found its way into the plumbing tool box as a tool for joining heating and air-conditioning ductwork, went from army green to silver and came to called duct tape. Now a dozen companies manufacture it in a rainbow of colors.
It has all kinds of uses, but there is one thing that duct tape is not good for, it turns out. My son Patrick wrapped blanket insulation around our basement furnace ducts, taking days to do it. Within weeks the tape came undone and so did the padding and was whapping us in the face every time we went to get the car out. We learned duct tape is not able to withstand the heat that travels through ductwork.
Which is, when you think about it, kind of funny.
1. Duct-tape Corner Bookmark
Duct tape in the right hands is enough to create a masterpiece or solve some of life’s most common challenges. You’ll have no trouble finding this staple in your house or at the grocery store, and it’ll be a breeze finding a ton of uses for duct tape.
Read on for 10 ways you can use duct tape to make your projects, style and life more awesome.
This isn’t your average bookmark. Not only does it hang on to the corner of your book, but it also allows your personality to shine as you choose a duct-tape print unique to you.
If you have a foam square and some duct tape handy, gone are the days of uncomfortable, cold bleacher and stadium seats. Check out this easy tutorial on how to make your own seat.
Create your own hemisphere to house plants, a mini-museum or to just hang out in with your buddies. You’ll need bamboo poles and a plastic tarp for this one.
Who couldn’t use a waterproof hammock? This thing is super durable and looks cool, too. Find step-by-step instructions on how to craft this on Make:Projects.
This is an intense project with a really cool end result! Check out the full tutorial on Instructables.
This project is easy — and when you’re finished, your picture frame will even stand up on its own. Check out the video below.
Here’s a classic duct-tape craft that will have you looking stylish and practical. Learn how to customize your belt with this guide.
If you’ve worked hard on your cardboard sled, you probably aren’t looking forward to seeing it destroyed in the snow. Here’s a solution and way to customize your ride. Read through the tutorial on Artzy Creations.
What’s super sweet about this beach bag? It’s waterproof. That’s right. You can pick up duct tape in a print you love and create a bag for a lot less money than purchasing one that’s already made.
Crafted all your duct-tape dream projects and not sure what to do with the cores of the tape? Here’s a handy use for those cardboard centers that will clean up your desk in the process. Explore the tutorial to see what we mean.
Do you have a cool project to add to this list? Have you already mastered one of the creations above? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to submit a photo of your finished product.
Check This Out!
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What Parents Should Know About the Duct Tape Challenge
While some online challenges contribute to a good cause (like the Ice Bucket Challenge), other social media dares serve no real purpose. And some of them, like the duct tape challenge, could be quite dangerous.
Despite the risks, social media fuels the challenge. Teens dare one another to try it, and many of them share their videos in an attempt to gain a piece of viral fame.
And while some parents may think the duct tape challenge is harmless fun, some teens are getting hurt. And it’s important for parents to understand the risks involved so that they can talk to their teens about the dangers.
What Is the Duct Tape Challenge?
The duct tape challenge involves teens wrapping someone up in duct tape. They might bind their hands and their feet. Or, they may tape a teen to a chair—or even the wall. Then, the individual wrapped in tape tries to escape.
Some teens spend hours trying to wiggle their way out, while others use dangerous stunts to gain freedom.
Teens record themselves trying to "escape the tape" and post the video online. Although the height of the trend was around 2016 to 2018, many videos are still being uploaded and shared on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube.
As the challenge continues to grow, teens continue to try and outdo one another. Consequently, the challenges have grown increasingly risky over time.
Safety Issues Associated With the Duct Tape Challenge
In 2016, 14-year-old Skylar Fish participated in the duct tape challenge. He fell while trying to break free.
He hit his head on a window frame and smashed into some concrete. He crushed his left eye socket and experienced head trauma. He underwent several surgeries over the next year, and doctors have warned the family he may never regain sight in his left eye.
Skylar’s family decided to share his story to serve as a warning about the dangers of the duct tape challenge. But not everyone is listening.
In fact, many teens are now posting their mishaps with the challenge online. If you search for “duct tape challenge gone wrong” you’ll find almost a million videos on YouTube that show teens vomiting, crying, and falling down throughout the challenge.
Talk to Your Teen About the Dangers
Clearly, the duct tape challenge isn’t the only dangerous activity teens are encouraging one another to do. There are also challenges like the Cinnamon Challenge, the Salt and Ice Challenge, and the Condom Challenge—which can all be harmful.
As these trends begin to fade, there’s no doubt that new challenges will surface. And there’s a good chance your teen will hear about them before you do.
You can’t monitor your teen’s activities all the time. But, you can give your teen the skills and tools they need to make healthy choices. Talk to your teen about the dangers associated with activities like the duct tape challenge.
Here are some important talking points:
- Ask your teen if they know anyone who participates in these challenges. A good way to start the conversation is to say, “I just heard about something called the duct tape challenge. Are kids at your school doing it?”
- Ask your teen why they think people participate in these types of challenges. Your teen may be able to give you some insight into why teens take part. Whether they say teens are bored or they are striving to become YouTube stars, listen to their ideas.
- What do you think about kids who do those things? Ask for their opinion before you share your thoughts. See if they think the teens who participate are funny, bored, or making poor choices.
- Discuss how to recognize the dangers. Acknowledge that some challenges may simply be fun, but that others could be really harmful. Ask how they would recognize if a challenge was potentially dangerous. Talk about how to think about potential consequences before participating.
- Talk about strategies to resist peer pressure. Even if your teen knows something is a bad idea, they might be tempted to go along with the crowd anyway. Identify strategies for resisting peer pressure, even if their friends tease them or insist they take part.
How to Deal With a Teen Who Participates in Dangerous Stunts
The teen brain isn’t yet fully developed. Consequently, teens view risk differently than adults do. So while your teen may be a straight A student, they might make some pretty unwise decisions at times.
If your teen participates in ridiculous pranks or they get caught up in dangerous dares, don’t ignore the problem. Have a serious talk about the potential perils your teen may be placing themself in.
Discuss the reasons they take part as well. Do they need something to do—like a job—to keep them busy? Are they trying to impress their friends?
Consider whether your teen might need help sharpening some of their skills. Perhaps they need help knowing how to say no. Or maybe they need to find positive activities that boost their self-worth so they don't feel as though they need to impress other people.
Make your expectations clear. Say, “I expect that you won’t engage in risky behavior just because your friends are doing it.” Simply saying those kinds of words can make your teen think twice about taking part in risky behavior like the duct tape challenge.
If your teen seems to be a natural risk-taker, help them find healthy outlets. Encourage them to get involved in sports or challenge them to raise money for a charity—as long as they do it in a safe way.
If your teen can’t seem to resist a dare, or they love taking everything to the next level, restrict their privileges. After all, if they are going to drive a car, you need to know your teen can say no when a friend challenges them to drive 100 miles per hour.
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