Dole teams up with David Datuna, the ‘starving artist’ who ate $ 120,000 worth of bananas at Miami Art Basel, for NFT Collection
The Dole Sunshine Company is teaming up with David Datuna – the artist who stole the show at Art Basel Miami in 2019 while eating a banana – to deposit an NFT (non-fungible token) collection.
The viral moment has earned Datuna the nickname “The Hungry Artist”. In 2019, the Brooklyn-based designer ate a banana that was part of an artwork by Maurizio Cattelan. Cattelan had sold the work, entitled Actor, for $ 120,000 at the high-profile Miami Fair – but Datuna approached the exhibit, then proceeded to peel, chew and swallow the subject before it could reach the collector’s home. Datuna called the stunt, which was filmed on video, an “artistic performance”.
But his latest project with Dole is less about bananas than benevolence. The Georgian-American artist, 47, says the partnership aims to raise awareness of food insecurity and malnutrition while rraising funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“Ever since I ate the banana from the wall to show how ridiculous the world can be selling a banana for $ 120,000, Dole reached out because they were looking to make nutrition more accessible and I thought, oh my god, that’s perfect, ”says Datuna.
Pier-Luigi Sigismondi, Global President of Dole, said the two sides were ripe for collaboration: “David’s perspective on using art and digital technology as a platform for awareness and societal change is one that clearly inspires us.
Datuna’s collection was inspired by Dole’s Sunshine for All Cities campaign, where the brand set a goal of making nutritious food accessible to 1 billion people by 2025. Last year, it launched. is associated with the Boys & Girls Club of America in Jackson, Mississippi, bringing healthy food to underserved communities. This year, the company aims to expand this program to Baltimore and other cities through educational programs and pop-up farmers’ markets.
Addressing food insecurity through art became important to him after traveling the world as an artist. Said Datuna, “I have looked into the eyes of hungry children, so this is a very personal goal for me.” The artist has also been fighting cancer for almost a decade and sees the partnership with Dole as an opportunity to turn his viral episode in Basel into something more meaningful. “I think about life and death every day and how tomorrow will be without me,” he adds. “As a Greek philosopher said, if you can think of a person, you can think of the world and I worry about my son and the planet of tomorrow.”
Two months ago, Dole approached Datuna to create a five-piece fruit-themed collection that will explore the link between nutrition and food security. The first four coins up for auction will be NFTs which drop on Rarible on May 6 at 3:30 p.m. PST.
The tangible piece 40 x 70, titled Sun for everyone, will be displayed in Decentraland, a virtual gallery, as well as a physical location in New York.
In it, the mixed media artist will present her take on mixed fruit combining images from the first four pieces of NFT, a work of pop art emphasizing the importance of accessible nutrition. Datuna has also deployed its signature spectacle lens technique, which finishes each painting with a top coat of mosaic lenses. “The different lenses represent different views and interpretations of society,” he says. “The four individual fruits brought together for the centerpiece represent people coming together to fight hunger.”
The fifth physical coin, according to Dole, has an NFT starting price equivalent to $ 10,000. It will be auctioned from May 6 to 8.
The four NFTs, meanwhile, will sell for $ 1,000 each. “Digitizing it will make it more accessible to more people and spread the message further,” says Datuna.
“With the rise of NFTs, we have recognized a unique opportunity and true convergence in the way we do business and reach consumers,” said Sigismondi, president of Dole.
All net proceeds will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club.
Long before his viral banana-eating moment in Basel, Datuna has been an acclaimed contemporary artist for over a decade; his works have appeared in museums, galleries and some are for sale on Artsy starting at $ 75,000.
“I tell my friends it’s funny how I got to the Smithsonian in 2013 when I was a living artist born in Georgia, but was able to show in the Smithsonian,” says Datuna, referring to his exhibit. Portrait of America at the DC Museum. “But the world didn’t react,” he continues, “it turned out that all I had to do was eat a banana for the world to pay attention to.” The move to Basel grabbed world headlines and positioned it as a polarizing figure in art and pop culture.
After Basel Miami, the missing piece of banana was replaced and no action was taken against the Datuna. He says he never met Cattelan, creator of the sheath banana. “Art is a universal language where we don’t have to talk to each other physically. He asked a question about bananas as an art and I gave him an answer by eating it. We spoke through art, but never physically in person. In September 2020, an anonymous donor donated the mashable masterpiece to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Continues Datuna: “I received hundreds of thousands of emails and Instagram messages after Basel. Some said “you are my hero” while others said I was dangerous. “The incident reminded him of the importance of seizing the moment. Less than three months after Basel, Covid-19 canceled a year of art fairs and shutter galleries across the world. Datuna had to cancel nine of its own exhibitions in 2020.
But with galleries reopening and many art fairs on schedule, Datuna is currently working on a separate project to create 36 flags for the Qatar World Cup in 2022. And if all goes according to plan, it will close the year with a high-tech exhibition at Art Week Miami, where, thanks to a banana, his fame fully materialized – and finally led him to Dole. “This partnership was a godsend because they want to talk about the same things I want to talk about and have a global impact,” says Datuna. “This is my first project with the food business and hopefully not the last.”