Protesters in Poland have taken to the streets to protest the removal of an avant-garde artwork from Warsaw’s National Museum.
Consumer Art by Polish artist Natalia LL shows a young woman eating a banana, basking in its sexual connotations.
The video was removed by staff after museum chief Jerzy Miziolek was summoned to the Ministry of Culture. Polish media outlets later reported that he himself had appealed to officials to remove the piece.
A piece by Katarzyna Kozyra, which shows a women walking two men dressed as dogs at the end of a leash, was also removed.
Miziolek later told news site wyborcza.pl that the works “have a distracting influence on young people.” “This is the National Museum and some subject matters, such as gender, should not be explicitly shown,” he said.
The move sparked ridicule in Poland, sparking a fruit-themed flash mob across social media. Some users spammed the museum’s Instagram account with banana emojis, while others posted their own takes on Natalia LL’s iconic piece. Protests cumulated with a banana-eating demonstration outside the museum itself.
The museum has since promised to reinstate the work, but the episode has left many in the art world concerned by the Polish government’s attitude towards controversial art.
In a statement, the ZW Foundation, which is tasked with caring for Natalia LL’s legacy, described the museum’s actions as “open censorship”.
“Through her art, Natalia LL was never afraid of asking difficult questions, and we certainly should not be afraid to answer them,” it wrote.