“Hungry” Seoul National University Student Eats 100-Million Won’s Worth Of Artwork

Netizens are calling him an “attention-seeker.”

A South Korean student from the prestigious Seoul National University (SNU) has become the target of criticism after he ate a banana from an art installation, claiming he was “hungry.”

Seoul National University student Noh Hyun Soo | Naver

The incident occurred on April 27, KST, at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul. The museum is holding a solo exhibition, WE, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan till July 16. One of the art pieces in the exhibit is “Comedian,” which consists of a ripe banana duct-taped to a wall. The installation has long been a source of popular discourse online.

Noh Hyun Soo, the SNU student who damaged the artwork, posted a video of him eating the banana and placing the peel back onto the wall afterward. In the clip, someone could be heard trying to stop Noh, yelling, “Excuse me.” But moments later, the room goes silent as Noh gobbles on the banana without responding.

When Noh was later asked why he ate the banana, he said he was “hungry” after skipping breakfast. But he told KBS that he saw the artwork as a rebellion against specific authority, adding that “there could be another rebellion against the rebellion.” He explained that damaging an artwork could also be seen as a work of art.

Cattelan himself didn’t see any problem with this incident, and Leeum has also informed the media that it will not claim any damages against the student. After the incident, the museum replaced the eaten banana with a new one, which is not a big deal since the banana on display is reportedly replaced every two to three days. The artwork reportedly comes with a certificate of authenticity, which implies that the owners can replace the banana without harming its value.

However, Noh is not the first one to pull off this stunt. In 2019, performance artist David Datuna pulled the banana on display from the wall of the international gallery at Art Basel in Miami and ate it in an intervention he called The Hungry Artist. The artwork was sold for USD 120,00 dollars (around KRW 160 million won) at Art Basel. When asked about the reason behind this stunt, Datuna told Observer, “Any meaningful interaction with an object could turn it into art. I am a hungry artist, and I am hungry for new interactions.

Korean netizens are not happy with Noh’s actions, and most of them see it as an attention-seeking move. Many even criticized him for his lack of originality, having resorted to “plagiarising” Datuna’s performance.

| Naver
  • “The best medicine for an attention seeker is not to give him any attention. He should be embarrassed of himself, tsk tsk tsk.”
  • “It’s even funnier to me that he reported himself to the media.”
  • “One of the most basic fundamentals of art is creativity. He copied the whole performance, and he should feel embarrassed. He really thought he could get free attention by copying another man’s performance.”
  • “What’s the point of being a Seoul University student if this is how you behave?”
  • “Eating the banana was wrong on his part, but you can’t be serious about calling that banana a piece of art.”


Source: Observer and Hankyung

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