Rodolfo Vanni


20 Bienal de São Paulo






63,8 x 92,2 cm


Poster on paper

In 1989, for the promotion of the Twentieth Sao Paulo Biennial, the Argentine, Rodolfo Vanni, created one of the most controversial posters of the emblematic event. Back then, Brazil was going through a difficult time with huge external debt, high levels of poverty and public insecurity. To communicate this situation, Vanni chooses to use the banana as a symbol of a country in crisis. The poster shows a green banana up close, split in two, but incorrectly reattached by the artist with metal staples. The banana stands out against the flat vivid yellow background. The words announcing the biennial, written in red, are superimposed onto the image. Vanni designed three posters for this edition of the biennial: one that had a crumpled Brazilian Cruzado Novo banknote, covered with tape and stuck between two glasses; another in black and white showing the tip of a revolver; and that of the split banana which was finally chosen as the image of the event. The poster was very controversial and caused a lot of interest amongst the public, positioning the Biennial as an event for the masses. This poster has been understood as a proclamation that the modern project has been left behind: although it featured a banana, a well-known symbol of Brazil’s exoticisation, it no longer functioned as an icon of an alienated tropicality but as a symbol of a country that needed to be restored. The “stapled banana”, as the poster is known, represents a new and different Brazil. As the artist announces: “as much as it hurts, it is possible to change things.”