Popeyes debuts $120,003.99 chicken sandwich at Art Basel
If there’s only one thing you have to know about this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, it’s that an artist duct-taped a banana to a wall and sold it for $120,000 … multiple times.
The artwork, called Comedian by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, has become a viral sensation this past week, culminating in huge crowds at the gallery, guerilla copycats around the world, a performance artist who ate the banana, and a vandal who scrawled the words “Epstein didn’t kill himself” on the wall — a foregone, if uncomfortable, conclusion, in a time in which memes have transcended the boundaries of the internet and are not only bleeding into the physical world, but shaping the contours of it, too.
In this age of endless replication and memes and brand antics, it was only a matter of time before a fast-food corporation got involved in the most talked-about viral stunt of the week: Popeyes, a chain with its own experience of transforming viral buzz into real money. Over the weekend at Art Basel in Miami, Popeyes taped one of its chicken sandwiches on a canvas and called it The Sandwich, billed as a “mixed media work of art.” The piece, which has been seen by “thousands of visitors” at San Paul Gallery Urban Art, per Popeyes, is on sale for $120,003.99 — the cost of Comedian, plus $3.99 for the sandwich. The company plans to donate any profits to its charity arm the Popeyes Foundation.
“And yes, a buyer has already inquired about purchasing,” a Popeyes representative wrote in a press statement.
Don’t eat the art. Even though it’s delicious. Go see our masterpiece “The Sandwich” at @Sanpaulgallery for #ArtBasel.— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) December 7, 2019
Toasted brioche bun, two pickles, fried chicken, mayo, duct tape on canvas. $120,003.99 pic.twitter.com/xzpc7Jttsk
If this fast-food stunt seems gauche and consumerist, that’s because it is. What is art, as a multibillion-dollar industry, but a market that turns creative productions into commodities bought and traded by wealthy institutions and individuals? In that sense, the existence of Comedian and The Sandwich make perfect sense as objects of consumption.
And in other news…
- A recent study found that the USDA’s pilot of a SNAP grocery delivery service inadequately addresses rural food deserts. [Modern Farmer]
- At least eight people from three states have been infected by an outbreak of E. coli linked to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kits. [CNN]
- That is separate from the current outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California region, which has sickened at least 102 people and resulted in 58 hospitalizations. [CDC]
- White Castle has issued a recall of multiple kinds of frozen sliders over possible listeria contamination. [FDA]
- Michelin is doing a guide to Malta. [Michelin Guide]
- The Japanese government hopes to double the country’s output of wagyu beef by 2035 to meet rising overseas demand. [Kyodo News]
- Here’s the plane food the new AirAsia restaurant is serving on the ground in Kuala Lumpur. [Insider]
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