Ban on banana-eating artwork draws ridicule in Poland

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People play with banana peels during a protest against perceived censorship by Poland's National Museum in front of the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland April 29, 2019. (REUTERS)
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People with bananas demonstrate outside Warsaw's National Museum on April 29, 2019, to protest against censorship, after authorities removed an artwork at the museum presenting a woman eating a banana, saying it was improper. (AFP)
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People with bananas demonstrate outside Warsaw's National Museum on April 29, 2019, to protest against censorship, after authorities removed an artwork at the museum presenting a woman eating a banana, saying it was improper. (AFP)
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People with bananas demonstrate outside Warsaw's National Museum on April 29, 2019, to protest against censorship, after authorities removed an artwork at the museum presenting a woman eating a banana, saying it was improper. (AFP)
Updated 30 April 2019

Ban on banana-eating artwork draws ridicule in Poland

  • Art critics note that “Consumer Art” was a critical comment on food shortages under communist rule in the 1970s

WARSAW, Poland: A few hundred mostly young people jointly ate bananas outside Warsaw’s top national gallery on Monday to protest what they called censorship, after authorities removed artwork there featuring the fruit, saying it was improper.
The protest was called by artists and opposition politicians as part of their action on Facebook and Twitter of posting photos of themselves eating bananas in order to ridicule the ban. The action grew into a show of apparent criticism of the government.
The 1973 video “Consumer Art,” by prominent artist Natalia LL, showing a young woman eating a banana with great pleasure, was removed from the National Museum in Warsaw last week after the new museum head, Jerzy Miziolek, was summoned to the Ministry of Culture.
Miziolek said in an interview with the Onet.pl portal last week that he was “opposed to showing works that could irritate sensitive young people” and suggested some visitors have complained. The work had been in the gallery for many years.
A separate 2005 video by another controversial female artist, Katarzyna Kozyra, showing a woman walking two men on all fours, dressed as dogs on a lead, was also removed.
On Monday, Miziolek announced that the works would be reinstated, but only until May 6, when the whole modern art gallery is due for reorganization. Miziolek and the Ministry of Culture denied there was any pressure on the museum.
Miziolek, who was appointed to the state-run museum by the right-wing government in November, said Monday he appreciated the role of both artists in Poland’s culture, but the gallery’s limited space requires “creative changes” to the exhibition.
The dispute is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding art and culture under the conservative and nationalist government that won power in 2015.
Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has repeatedly drawn criticism for cutting subsidies to art festivals that were planning to show controversial theater plays on Catholic themes. Glinski has fired a popular theater director who criticized him as well as the director of a World War II museum, saying the exhibition did not show Poland’s suffering or heroism enough.
He recently cut funds for the European Solidarity Center, an exhibition on the Solidarity movement’s history and a culture center popular with government critics, saying its activity went beyond its history-teaching mission.
Twitter and Facebook users ridiculed the removal of the art works as narrow-minded and a case of censorship, and many posted photos of themselves enjoying bananas.
Actress Magdalena Cielecka told The Associated Press that the image she posted, of her pointing a banana at her head like a gun, was in protest against any ideological or political limits put on artists.
“An artist, to create, must be free,” Cielecka said.
At the collective banana-eating protest Monday night, some people brought more than one banana, while others put banana skins on top of their heads. A few unarmed police officers were on the scene outside the museum, which is closed on Mondays.
Senate speaker and prominent ruling Law and Justice party member Stanislaw Karczewski sought to discredit the protest, tweeting that Polish apples are tastier than bananas and have fewer calories.
“The #BananowyProtest (banana protest) is the straight road to obesity,” Karczewski tweeted.
The controversy was widely commented on in national media.
Art critics note that “Consumer Art” was a critical comment on food shortages under communist rule in the 1970s.


‘Jetman’ stuns with Iron Man-style flight over Dubai

Updated 18 February 2020

‘Jetman’ stuns with Iron Man-style flight over Dubai

  • The Frenchman hovered above Dubai’s coast before shooting off into the air and skimming the city’s skyline
  • Daredevil Vince Reffet’s carbon fiber wings are powered by four mini jet engines

DUBAI: Daredevil Vince Reffet has soared into the skies above Dubai in the latest “Jetman” stunt, taking off from the ground and climbing to 1,800 meters in a feat reminiscent of Marvel’s “Iron Man” and hailed as a world first.
Reffet and his collaborators, known as “Jetmen,” have literally scaled new heights with the help of jetpacks and carbon-fire wings, staging a series of aerial displays that send them tearing through the skies at breakneck speed.
In an awe-inspiring flight captured on viral video, the Frenchman on Friday hovered five meters above the crystal waters of Dubai’s coast before shooting off into the air and skimming the city’s skyline.


“We accomplished another world first in 100 percent autonomous human flight with @jetmandubai, who took off from the ground before soaring to a high-altitude flight of up to 1,800m!” tweeted Expo 2020 Dubai, the mammoth trade fair that will open in October.
The Jetmen had previously launched themselves into the air by jumping down from high platforms.
“It’s the result of extremely thorough teamwork, where each small step generated huge results. Everything was planned to the split second, and I was overjoyed by the progress that was achieved,” Reffet said in a statement.
“One of the next objectives is to land back on the ground after a flight at altitude, without needing to open a parachute. It’s being worked on.”

Reffet’s carbon fiber wings are powered by four mini jet engines. The equipment, which is controlled by the pilot’s movements, is capable of reaching speeds of 400 kilometers per hour.
On Friday, Reffet hovered five meters above the crystal waters of Dubai’s coast before shooting off into the air and skimming the city’s skyline.
The Jetmen have pulled off a series of eye-popping flights in Dubai, soaring in tandem above the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, and alongside an Emirates Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airplane.
Last year, Reffet and fellow Frenchman Fred Fugen also flew through the famed “Heaven’s Gate” archway in the mountains of China’s Hunan province.