“The more we express ourselves, the more we collectively heal. We are thinking about this time as an emergency art residency and we are producing as much as possible.”
How do you situate your work in the context of the current moment?
Unexpectedly, this has become a time of fear, polarization, and isolation. It’s hard to connect with strangers who are wearing a mask. God forbid someone has a different opinion than you. Polarization feels like the new normal. It will be interesting to see how issues of identity, politics, and culture play out on the world stage and with artists.
Our artwork is always site–specific—our work is always created in the context of the current moment. We are really focused on the importance of beauty at this time. Actually, this has always been our impulse. It just seems even more relevant now. When we started our work mapping fruit trees in public space with the idea that public space could be used to share resources, we were thinking about how people are disconnected from each other. Many modern cities are not walking cities. People are disconnected by design. We thought, “get off your cellphones, out of your cars and say hello to your neighbors.”
We discovered early on in our project that by focusing on fruit as a subject matter, we could quickly and easily create common bonds with people no matter their age, gender, or politics. We became interested in making everyone feel like they were included and valued. We decided our artwork would not polarize people, create opposition, or divide differences. Our approach to art work is about making the circle bigger, embracing all people in the moment, and celebrating our collective histories (even challenging material). Our immersive artwork installation for 21c Museum Hotel Louisville, The Practices of Everyday Life is a good example of this. It was our goal to celebrate marginalized communities and put aspects of what we found on the wall. But In a way to engage conversation and storytelling. Aesthetics are playing a bigger role in our work. Beauty is something we can all relate to and some things can’t be expressed in words alone.
This is a time about understanding that we collectively create the world around us. Whether that be in our home, in our community, or in the world at large. This is an era about accountability and compassion—about collective responsibility to make adjustments and changes to long–term outcomes for the greatest good of all. When we are looking at contemporary culture and world history, by default we are looking at identity politics.
What projects are you currently working on and how is social distancing affecting your art practice?
We are lucky to be artists– in fact, lockdown was not too far from a normal artist life for us. Social distancing has created great opportunities to create work without distractions. Some of our work was postponed, and thankfully, everyone seems eager to move forward with the exception of our socially engaged public participatory projects.
These include public park projects (the city of San Diego, California; the 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis, Missouri [in development]; and Newfields, the location of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana), as well as immersive art installations commissioned for the cities of Geneva, Switzerland; Melbourne, Australia; and Linz, Austria.
As we continue to expand our immersive artworks, our work becomes more beautiful and we continue to make bold choices to explore shifts in meaning, and collective histories, and contemporary culture. Some of the topics we are taking head on include: the environment, colonialism, revisionist history, and extinction.
We are inspired more than ever to make projects that allow opportunities for our cities and neighborhoods to become more sustainable, livable places—it would be amazing to have easy access to fresh fruit outside of our front doors at a time like this. We are working further developing the Endless Orchard—our online fruit tree mapping project where anybody can collaborate and make a neighborhood anywhere in the world more generous. It really is about the local. We plan to test out the site later this year with an open-call for public collaboration to plant, map and share fruit trees in collaboration for the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.
What advice and tips can you give to other artists during this time?
This is an important time to make art. Art has the power to change the world. In times of darkness or uncertainty, art is paramount. Don’t hold back. It’s going to be exciting to see what comes out of this. Express your truth. Make a book of your work and self-publish it as a PDF or get one copy printed. If you need financial help, post your art for sale—there are many people who want to help. The only mistake would be not to express yourself. The more we express ourselves, the more we collectively heal. We are thinking about this time as an emergency art residency and we are producing as much as possible.
One of the things that we have learned from researching geographical histories is that culture persists. It is not a finite terminable thing. It is not one painting or one monument or one song or one dance. It is the expression of people expressing their truth of the world. Sometimes these are a mourning, a lamentation, or meditation… Other times, it is a kaleidoscope, or a mirror of beauty and love. Art and creative culture is necessary—it is one of the ways that all people celebrate the world. We are looking forward to upcoming projects and seeing the new works of our peers and colleagues. The possibility for art to change the meaning of the world in the coming years is powerful and awesome. As virtual tours and live streaming become more popular, perhaps it’s the local arts scenes that will become more meaningful. Art that stimulates our five senses. Creating beauty is radical. There is no mutually exclusive substitution for art and creativity—the real and the imagined both exist in this world.
How are you cultivating community for yourself and what can the community be doing to support artists?
Much of our work that is best known is “community focused.” We build park projects, work in public spaces, create art installations for museums. It is common for our day-to-day professional and personal lives to engage the public in broad and dynamic ways. During 2020, this has essentially become impossible.
It’s really strange to go out in a mask and connect with people. It seems like a radical act would be to keep having exhibitions, performances, happenings, and figure out ways to do so safely. Facebook and Instagram are not a replacement for real connection. Keeping an active network of friends and colleagues in the real world is important. How do we safely connect? If you have extra money, buy artwork from your artist or artisan friends. Shop locally and support your community.
We see a lot of artists exploring forms of online activism and project development, yet we have taken this time to look inward. We have moved our attention to other realms of our work. Working on infrastructure, rebuilding our Endless Orchard website, doing project development, experimenting with new project ideas for public sculpture, working on archives, taking care of ourselves, and the things we never get extra time to focus on.
Fallen Fruit Biography:
Fallen Fruit is an art project that began in Los Angeles by creating maps of public fruit: the fruit trees growing on or over public property. The work of Fallen Fruit includes photographic portraits, experimental documentary videos, and site-specific installation artworks. Using fruit (and public spaces and public archives) as a material for interrogating the familiar, Fallen Fruit investigates interstitial urban spaces, bodies of knowledge, and new forms of citizenship. From protests to proposals for utopian shared spaces, Fallen Fruit’s work aims to reconfigure the relationship of sharing and explore understandings of what is considered both — public and private. From their work, the artists have learned that “fruit” is symbolic and that it can be many things; it’s a subject and an object at the same time it is aesthetic. Much of the work they create is linked to ideas of place and generational knowledge, and it echoes a sense of connectedness with something very primal – our capacity to share the world with others. Fallen Fruit is an art collaboration originally conceived in 2004 by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young. Since 2013, David and Austin have continued the collaborative work.
“We believe everyone is a collaborator in making something special – even the stranger or passerby. We believe that “artwork” has a “resonant effect.” Fruit is a universal gift to humanity and fruit is always political.” – David Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit
Fallen Fruit has been recently featured in 15 Los Angeles Artists to Watch, ARTnews (Cover); Artforum (Critic’s Pick), “Tasty and Subversive Too”, The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler “18 -best shows in London”, “Food Matters” The New York Times. LA Confidential (Cover and Feature), “How Fallen Fruit is Changing the Art World & Life in LA.” Their work has been featured in The Idea of the West by Doug Aitken and numerous other publications The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Come Together: The Rise of Cooperative Art and Design by Francesco Spampinato (Princeton Architectural Press) as well as numerous broadcast radio, TV, video and blog venues.
Project Portfolio & Descriptions
Newcomb Art Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2018
TEATRO DEL SOLE / THEATER OF THE SUN
Manifesta 12 Biennale, Palermo, Siciliy, Italy, 2018
FRUITS FROM THE GARDEN AND FIELD
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 2019
EVENT HORIZON: DARKNESS IS A TEMPORARY CONDITION
Kuntzhall 3.14, Bergen, Norway