'New art for sale:' Arab American Museum mocks banana exhibit in a Pure Dearborn way

December 12, 2019, 6:19 PM

(Photo: Arab American National Museum)

A Metro Detroit museum manager shows how to seize the moment.

Matthew Stiffler, research and content manager at the Arab American National Museum, grabs attention by spoofing a widely seen bit of dubious "art" with this culturally appropriate Dearborn stunt above.

A brief shawarma-on-the-wall "exhibit" this week mocked an equally perishable duct-taped display at Art Basel Miami Beach last week by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan:

Stiffler tells Middle East Eye, a news site based in London:

"It was just a funny thing, but we also want to make a claim that when there are conversations about art happening, Arab Americans have something to say." . . .

He added that as light-hearted as the shawarma artwork is, it fits into the museum's mission of promoting Arab-American art. "The museum is focusing on building Arab-American art - building the capacity for Arab-American artists to do their work, building our collection of art," Stiffler said.

The manager credits curator Elizabeth Barret-Sullivan with suggesting shawarma when he proposed the gimmick. 

The museum bought the sandwich from Country Chicken, a Arabic restaurant in Dearborn, without alerting the chef that it would turn into a work of art, said Stiffler.

A museum tweet showing the wall-worthy shawarma, identified as "New art piece for sale," is shared about 270 times and earns nearly 900 "like" hearts.

"I’d much rather eat that than a banana," one comment says. "Is there hummus and tabouli salad with that?

Read more:  Middle East Eye

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