Artworks have defined social trends and historic values through generations. Now, millennials comprise much of today’s workforce and its consumer market with a vastly influential digital voice. As a result, modern art has reached new conceptual heights. In a historically defining work of art, contemporary German artist Tim Bengel has spoken to Millenials internationally. His latest work comprises a multi-piece solid gold avocado toast.
More specifically, Bengel’s piece features finely detailed ingredients. The golden sandwich is held together by two slices of 18-karat gold pumpkin-seeded bagel. It consists of equally genuine gold arugula, sliced tomato, and onion. But the work’s highlight ingredient points to several slices of incredibly dense avocado.
While the artist has titled the work, “Who Wants to Live Forever?” he’s additionally identified the sandwich’s contents as “Green Gold.”
In an Instagram post featuring one of the “avocado slices” itself, Bengel revealed that it alone cost $14,000. The golden avocado toast itself maxes out at a worth around $3 million.
One of the artist’s other Instagram posts revealed his thought process behind the extravagant sandwich. “For me, the avocado is one of the symbols of the Millenial generation. And I want to capture the Zeitgeist in this work.”
As a visual artist, Bengel has turned the avocado into a timeless symbol of this current period in history.
Subjectivity in an Avocado
Bengel’s work is admirable in its effort to immortalize the Millenial generation. However, viewers of the piece have brought up other interesting symbols and translations. As the avocado toast artwork exudes personality and wealth both, it serves as another divisive object.
Following Bengel’s clip highlighting the details of the single golden avocado slice, @complicatedkori wrote, “Imagine how many people you could feed with that.”
The simple comment adds to the subjectivity of the work. While some may view “Who Wants to Live Forever?” and see it as a generational icon, others have interpreted it entirely differently.
Art As a Symbol of Division
The coronavirus pandemic left families internationally unemployed and underpaid. Despite federal efforts to alleviate some of these issues, many struggled simply to feed themselves and their families. So theoretically, the single slice does represent a generational trend. Although, it may also represent social issues pertaining to middle and lower-class citizens around the world.
A New York Post article detailed market statistics surrounding the increase of avocado consumption and prices. The golden avocado toast sandwich boasts an insane $3 million price tag. Meanwhile, avocado sales themselves shot sky-high as early as 2017. The statistics drew a comparison between the housing market and the cost of avocado toast. It required a savings of 7,000 $9 avocado toasts to enable a single person to afford a “modest home” in Berlin.
For Americans in New York City, avocado savings required an even higher degree of frugality. And the reward amounts to much less than even a Berliner’s modest home. For a savings of more than 12,000 $10 avocado toasts, New Yorkers may afford to purchase a modest apartment.
Overall, then, Bengel’s work comprises a series of underlying symbols, interpretations, and values. So while Millenials have immortalized the significance of the avocado toast, Bengel’s work further emphasizes that Millenial values lie in more attainable items as income remains stagnant and debt steepens.