Created for 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis, The Way Out West is an immersive artwork installation for the historic stairwell that connects the public spaces and art galleries. The artwork, which utilizes the interior architecture as a frame, is sourced from hundreds of photographs taken by the artists around the city at different times of year, including images of flowers and plants from public parks, artifacts from historic collections, as well as drawings of birds and pollinators native to the region. The title, The Way Out West, refers to the 19th-century cultural belief that American settlers had a divinely-ordained right to expand the nation westward, St. Louis being one gateway to this destiny. This proclamation of sovereignty was foundational in American history and Fallen Fruit’s work confronts the notion that history unfurled from one perspective alone. The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social unrest and protests highlighted and exacerbated the current era of cultural evolution, one in which we must question frameworks of history, and how it is told, for whom, and by whom, to create a more inclusive, accurate story. In our current moment of cultural evolution, we find ourselves on a journey to redefine legal frameworks, complex legacies, civil rights, concepts of inclusion, political representation, and to harmonize the voices of all people.
About Fallen Fruit:
David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit creates beautiful and sumptuous spaces where audiences can enjoy museum collections in new, unexpected ways that simultaneously reveal a series of layered social constructs. This art project 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. find them on Instagram @fallen_fruit
“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
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1970, David Allen Burns completed an BFA in 1993 from California Institute of the Arts and an MFA from UC Irvine in 2005. David grew up in a diverse middle-class community in West Los Angeles and helped out at family owned businesses across Southern California where he would often explore these diverse communities in surrounding neighborhoods on the weekends. From a young age, he was regularly meeting new people of all ages and backgrounds and learning about their stories and livelihoods, participating in community events, and attending cultural programs and services. David’s work has always looked at contextualized relational knowledge and disrupting systems of meaning, especially exploring the limitations and boundaries about what could be considered “familiar.” Often work is created with non-precious materials, found objects and incorporates materials from the everyday to transform aesthetics and contextual framework that sublimates understanding about what we think we may already know — likened to a conceptual reconstruction of a trompe l’oeil instead of the copy of the visual representation.
Austin Young is from Reno, Nevada and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. The foundation of his career is from studying at Parsons in Paris. Early in his career, Austin transferred his interests from traditional portrait painting towards a long- celebrated career in portrait photography. In many ways, Austin is more accurately described as an image-maker: his projects illustrate the sublime qualities of character that make celebrated people unique. Based on a nuanced visual language of pop-culture iconography, his trademark style and techniques have captured a broad palette of musicians, artists and celebrities including Debbie Harry, Leigh Bowery and Margaret Cho, among others. In multiple bodies of work, Austin confuses personality and identity issues in confrontational and unapologetic image making about people who often split gender roles, stereotypical constraints and socially-constructed identities.