When ripening, bananas don’t really smell like bananas. Instead they have an elusive, heady, ozone smell. (Maybe it’s the smell of ethylene—bananas have a higher concentration of that gas than other, rounder, fruits.) I mention this, not as a gratuitous phallic food reference, but because it explains why I didn’t realize that the new Stefan Sagmeister exhibition, Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far, contained a wall of the elongated, green, yellowing, soon-to-be-brown-and-attracting-fruit-flies, produce.
After walking past the reception desk at Deitch Projects, and checking out the title work, Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far, an installation of blank note pads waiting to be filled, I headed into the larger gallery. My nose picked up the sweet, chemical odor before my gaze traveled over to the 10,000 bananas. The piece, Self-confidence Produces Fine Results, spells out those words in green and yellow fruit: The sampler slogan, already obscured, as the unripe font turned golden in the warm room.
The things the graphic designer has learned in his life so far are simple truisms done up in quirky drag, but I’ve always liked this growing collection. Sagmeister transforms near-clichés into aphorisms that tap into how a creative mind works. 43 folders has the entire list here. Picking a favorite is tough. Today it is “Having guts always works out for me.” I am not sure it always holds true, but it is something to live up to. I’ll abide by the banana billboard as well.