Photo by jenifoto via Getty Images

You can buy it for $765,650

Tim Nelson
August 21, 2018

If you’re a millennial and you’ve spent any time on the internet in the past two years, you’re probably sick of hearing how much avocados—and especially avocado toast—costs. High prices for that particular combo of fat and carbohydrates are apparently to blame for a general lack of homeownership among today’s young adults, instead of, you know, systemic factors like crippling student loan debts exacerbated by relatively stagnant wages.

Well, it seems like some Australian artists feel your pain—or at least want to spark a discussion about how we determine an object’s worth. Julia and Ken Yonetani are the artistic duo behind Avocado Toast: the reality sandwich, a hyperrealistic sculpture depicting avo toast with a side salad. Hardly abstract, the work is instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever idly scrolled through Instagram.

Though a finalist for the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, Avocado Toast, is making waves not because of its inherent aesthetic qualities, but because of its price tag. The artists are asking AU$1,041,689 (about US$765,650) for a work of art that could fit on a breakfast plate, a bit steep even though the Yonetanis enjoy an international reputation as sculptors who take their inspiration from food.

Rather than an effort to extort wealthy patrons of the arts, the shocking price tag is essentially a component of the artistic statement. Given that Australians in particular associate avocado toast with a lack of millennial homeownership, the Yonetanis wanted to sell the work at a price point roughly equal to the median cost of a home in Sydney or Melbourne.

The hope is to spark a discussion around how and why houses and avocados have become inexorably linked. “The artists are inviting us to consider what is the actual worth of a house or a sculpture? When does the price of something become so unobtainable it seems unreal and mere speculation?” says a press release associated with the small sculpture prize.

Through the depiction of faux avocado toast offered at an absurd price point, the artists suggest that the value of homes or avocado toast can be so arbitrary that these things themselves are effectively rendered artificial. Or at least that’s what the college class I took in modern art history leads me to believe.

If you happen to be in Woollhara, New South Wales, Australia, you can see Avocado Toast: the reality sandwich and the 47 other Small Sculpture Prize finalists from October 20th through November 11th. Or, you can just order some avocado toast and stare at it for a while. It’s pretty much the same thing.

 

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