The Price Look-up Project: PLU I, PLU II, PLU III, PLU IV, PLU V, VI
Stickers on fruits and vegetables are officially known as PLUs or price look-up codes. Initially, in the 1990s, they contained bar codes only to facilitate inventory control. Soon, logos and URLs were added. A PLU code now turns a banana or a lettuce head into a “value-added vegetable product.” The 1400 PLU codes in circulation around the world today symbolize the globalization and the commercialization of basic food commodities. A simple piece of fruit is now a brand. Is this a good thing? nh
PLU VI – Frozen
In 2019, I noticed a sticker advertising a product other than the company marketing the fruit or vegetable on which it appeared. This next generation of PLU codes ends this project and makes it official: a raw fruit frequently fed to babies and toddlers is but an advertisement vehicle.
PLU V – Shelf Life
N. Heule, Apple, bronze, 2018, with PLU codes Red Delicious
PLU IV – Still happy?
la Orana Maria, 1891 (detail)
Paul Gauguin (1848–1903)
Oil on canvas 113.7 cm x 87.6 cm
Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, says on its website: “Gauguin […] describing la Orana Maria in a letter of March 1892: ‘An angel with yellow wings reveals Mary and Jesus, both Tahitians, to two Tahitian women […] with bananas on the left. I’m rather happy with it.'” Concept copyright 2017 © by Nandy Heule. Trademark PLU code ™Chiquita.
Ia Orana Maria, 1891 (detail)
And here are Adam and Eve, 1526 (detail):
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Medium: Oil on panel, 117cm x 80 cm
© The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
PLU II: Who wins?
Mixed media. Banana, bamboo stick, thread, PLU code. Music credit: re-mix Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Erik Satie. Copyright © 2017 by Nandy Heule
PLU I: Sticker doll
Mixed media. Cloth, pre-fabricated mannequin doll on wood stand. PLU codes (collected in 2012-2013 in Canada, England, The Netherlands), kitchen plastic wrap, kitchen foil, buttons.
Copyright © 2016 by Nandy Heule