#BananaSelfie goes viral in Poland over “scandalous” artwork
Around a thousand people marched outside the Warsaw museum on April 29. Many were eating bananas to make their point.
On April 29, thousands of Polanders gathered outside their national museum and posted pictures of themselves eating bananas on social media. They captioned it #BananaSelfie. Does it sound strange? This hashtag has an incredible story behind it. It involves the participation of Poland’s citizens and artists who came together to save culture.
The Warsaw museum in Poland took down an artwork called “Consumer Art” because authorities felt it was ‘too scandalous’. The artwork—an image of a woman eating a banana—was taken from a 1973 video by photographer Natalia LL. The head of the museum, Jerzy Miziolek, told Poland’s largest web portal Onet.pl that he was opposed to showing works that could irritate sensitive young people.
According to Polish newspaper, Miziolek said, "Certain topics related to gender shouldn't be explicitly shown". He was appointed to head the state-run museum by the right-wing Government in November 2018. The Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has been criticised for curbing artists’ freedom under the conservative government that came to power in 2015.
Miziolek responded to the criticisms in a statement published on the museum’s website. He said his decision to remove the exhibition had nothing to do with censorship. "The changes to the exhibition are in fact part of our commitment and new more dynamic vision for the functioning of the institution and not the depreciation of the museum's collection or its censorship.”
Polanders didn’t buy it
Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were flooded with images of people eating bananas.
The country’s opposition parties and artists took note of this incident and called for a protest outside the Warsaw museum. This was part of their action to not just ridicule the ban on the artwork but also criticize the conservative government.
Around a thousand people marched outside the Warsaw museum on April 29. Many were eating bananas to make their point. The Law and Justice government has supported conservative values in its four years. It has rejected LGBT rights ahead of Poland's parliamentary elections this year.
The public’s collective effort led the national museum to announce that it would reverse its decision. The ban has been temporarily lifted and two images were re-installed but only until May 6 as the museum’s art gallery will undergo reorganisation.