Anna Banana: 45 Years of Fooling Around with A. Banana, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC (exhibition animation)
Performance: Various (September 19, 2015 – January 10, 2016)
Animator’s Bio: Banana Boy (Born 21 February 1964) was 11 years old when he first saw Anna Banana in San Francisco at the Banana Olympics. Seeing this spectacle and all the people in amazing banana costumes influenced him to pursue a certain banadada euphoria throughout his life. Banana Boy claims to be heavily influenced by the discovery of VILE magazine, a DADA publication, at the age of 15 years old. Boy claims to have “witnessed the end of an era of mail art and Dada activities in San Francisco”, referring to the 70s bay area dadaist revival which Anna Banana was allegedly part of.
He is almost always seen wearing yellow, and is known for constantly wearing canary yellow socks. He has a spiritual affinity with Anna Banana. In fact, he feels deeply connected with her, and claims “she ignited him on a spiritual artistic quest.” He lives and works in San Francisco working tirelessly to rebuild a fragmented arts scene.
Learning With Bananas: An Exhibition Animators Memoir-Manifesto, The Art of A. Banana Unpeeled, Open Space, Victoria, BC (essay in book)
Excerpt from essay:
“Throughout the exhibition, I animated seventeen school-aged groups, a youth group, a public tour for all ages, and a cohort of elementary school educators. I believe that when I crash into the banana boxes I not only make people laugh; I smash people’s expectations about how we ought to conduct ourselves within an art gallery: talking, walking, learning, and dressing. It is an invitation to let loose and fool around, but to do so with intention. Just as Anna Banana’s Banana Olympics question the capitalist absurdity and injustices of the Olympic games in a fun way, my banana-box routine reveals new possibilities for how we could conduct ourselves within the gallery. After having experienced an exhibition animator tour, a 6th grade student wrote to me and said, “At the art gallery, i learned that you can express yourself in so many different ways and be different and silly and make your own rules to be diverse. I think that for younger kids you should teach them now because when they’re older they’ll be in a trance of rules and serious’nous.” I agree strongly with this eleven-year-old about showing young people how to mindfully challenge authority; however, I do not think that this is something that can be explicitly taught. I demonstrate that there is potential to follow proper channels in dismantling the status quo of an institution from the inside out. Through emancipation from gallery conventions and restrictions, participants may push up against the confines of their self-imposed boundaries, provided they are willing to think beyond the gallery setting. Thus, the essence of this “banadada” pedagogy is in opening up new possibilities for the cultivation and growth of new expansive, creative horizons.”
“The Anna Banana phenomenon in the fall of 2015 reminds Victorians of its early roots in boundary-pushing social practice art, instigated first through the Town Fool project in 1971. At that time, Victoria was not prepared for such thought-provoking works. The reincarnation of Anna Banana’s work, and all of its interactive components, has once again evoked change in the arts through the birth of the exhibition animator and the endless possibilities it represents. Perhaps, had it not been for the boundary-pushing nature of Banana’s work, the AGGV would not be prepared to take me on as their first animator. For myself, it amounted to pushing the boundaries of teaching and blurring the line between teacher and artist.”