Science - February 23, 2018

Is the banana on its way out? (video)

Can art help increase the awareness of scientific research into bananas among the general public? A photo exhibition in Impulse tries to do just that.

Text and photo: Kenneth van Zijl

By the look of the many bunches of bananas in shops and market, you would not guess that the banana is on the verge of extinction. The malefactor is a vicious fungus that damages the leaves and fruits, causing the banana to be rotten before it even gets off the plantation. Scientists at WUR are working on a solution.

Panama disease
The banana disease, which is known as the Panama disease, has large consequences for the food production and local economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Professor Gert Kema of Wageningen Plant Research is the expert on the subject; he has been doing research into this global problem for years and published on the topic in scientific journals.

But the broader public does not read these elaborate and complicated papers. Fernando García-Bastidas is also a researcher at Wageningen Plant Research and works with Kema. He wants to increase the people’s social awareness of the importance for scientific research in general and into bananas in particular.

And he uses surprising means to achieve that: the banana art of banana iSteef – the artist name of Stephan Brusche. A few years ago, Brusche discovered that bananas are very fun to draw on. He has since worked over hundreds of bananas and turned them into art. After drawing on a banana, he takes a picture of the piece. For iSteef, the banana is a canvas. In that way, the banana’s continued existence is in his interest.

Until 22 March, Impulse will house an exhibition with iSteef’s banana photos. Resource was present during the launch of the exhibit and talked to the initiator – García-Bastidas, professor Kema and iSteef.

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