No, The Pineapple Prank Meme Isn’t Proof “Modern Art” Is A Sham

by Michael Anthony Farley on May 9, 2017 Newswire


Lloyd Jack

The mainstream internet’s latest “har har art people are whacky” meme is a pineapple in a vitrine. This is not a Damien Hirst nor Yoko Ono. The fruit was left as a prank by gallery visitors at Robert Gordon University’s Pester & Rossi: INFINITY INTENSIF exhibition on an empty plinth, and somehow ended up enshrined under a glass case during a reshuffle of the show.

The guerilla produce curators, RGU technology student Ruairi Gray and his friend Lloyd Jack, “saw an empty art display stand and desided to see how long it would stay there for or if people would believe it was art,” Gray told the The Daily Mail. Mysteriously, when he returned a few days later, the pineapple had been enshrined in a glass case.

The display is a bit of a puzzle to the actual curators as well. Natalie Kerr, one of the organizers of the Look Again Festival, of which the exhibition was a component, claims she doesn’t know who had put the impostor piece in the vitrine:

“We were moving the exhibition, and came back after 10 minutes and it was in this glass case. It’s a bit of a mystery – the glass is pretty heavy, and would need two or three people to move it, we’ve got no idea who did it. But… we decided to keep it because it’s keeping with the playful spirit of this commission. A theme of next year’s festival is young people and play, so this puts us in good stead.”

The story of course hit the British press, who infamously love “but is it really art?” scandals (consider the tabloids’ reactions to basically every Turner Prize competition). The Daily Record claims they’ve “conned” the art snobs. It’s since made the jump to the global click-bait-sphere, where countless headlines suggest that the pineapple is proof oblivious “Modern Art” (LOL) curators will fall for anything.

That is obviously absurd. The curators knowingly let the intruder artwork remain. Sally Reaper, the director of the Look Again Festival explained: “It was very clear to us it was a prank but we have decided to leave it there because it’s in keeping with the playful spirit of our festival.”

Time Magazine

No, no, no.

If the internet masses laughing at this only knew how much more ridiculous the art world can actually be, they wouldn’t need this as a false flag. The slightest bit of digging reveals the pineapple wouldn’t even really make sense in that gallery (despite its alleged appropriateness to the larger festival’s tone).

Pester & Rossi‘s commission was to reconsider the university’s collection of obsolete scientific equipment, curate an exhibition of it, and create works in response. They’re known for brightly-colored interactive inflatables and performances with garments. This pineapple looks like nothing else in the installation, which—ironically enough—was about questioning our faith in the absolute validity of empirical observation.

I reached out to Pester & Rossi for their comment on the matter, but haven’t heard back as of time of publication. I for one might be a little irritated that the gallery staff didn’t just throw the £1 pineapple away immediately, considering the press’s reaction. Leaving the pineapple might’ve generated some publicity for an otherwise unknown festival, but it seems pretty disrespectful to the artists involved.


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