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What Artists Are Doing Now. Contemporary art collective Fallen Fruit in Los Angeles

Arterritory.com

26.05.2020

An inspiration and mutual solidarity project for the creative industries

At the focus of the What Artists Are Doing Now project is the creative person, their thoughts on this peculiar time, and their visions of the future and art. Arterritory.com began this series as a pandemic initiative with the aim of showing and affirming that neither life nor creative energy are coming to a stop during this crisis. We have invited artists from all over the world to send us a short video or photo story illustrating what they are doing, what they are thinking, and how they are feeling during this time of crisis.

Although we are immensely happy that in many places around the world museums and galleries are once again opening their doors to visitors, all of our lives have significantly changed and, most likely, will never be quite like they were before. Today, the importance of art in the lives of virtually everyone has doubtlessly intensified, for artists are visionaries who can inspire those around them as they simultaneously do their part in providing solutions to global problems.

From their studio in Los Angeles, contemporary art collective David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit answers a short questionnaire by Arterritory.com:

Are you working on any projects right now in your studio? If so, could you briefly describe them?

Our work has always been about connecting people. We are really focused on the importance of beauty and levity at this time. Actually, this has always been our impulse. It just seems even more relevant now.

In times of adjustment it is important to fortify the foundations and infrastructures of a place, culture, and society. In these ways, we turn to what we know. We are working on our fruit tree nurseries. We are continuing to develop public park projects. We are experimenting on new projects with mushrooms and strawberries. These are the tools that we turn to when there are times of uncertainty.

We are inspired more than ever to make projects that allow opportunities for our cities and neighbourhoods 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 on developing the Endless Orchard – our online fruit tree mapping project where anybody can collaborate and make a neighbourhood 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 with the NGV in Melbourne, Australia.

We are lucky to be artists – in fact, in some ways lockdown has not been too far from a normal artist life for us. We are working on upcoming projects that have all been postponed. These include a few public fruit park projects (the city of San Diego, California; the 21c Museum Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri; 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.

For a public art commission from the city of San Diego, we are designing and installing a fruit park in San Ysidro, a neighbourhood of San Diego that is on the border between the United States and Mexico. San Ysidro is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in California. Neighbours will collaborate with us to extend the fruit trees into the side streets and alleys of the community. We are expecting to add about 100 fruit trees into the community for this project. The climate of San Ysidro is perfect for growing ripe, organic hand-picked fruit year round. The public fruit park will be an everbearing public orchard in the centre of the neighbourhood along El Camino Real de California, a route established by colonial Spain throughout what is now California and Baja California, Mexico. Fruit moved around the world with colonialism, culture, trade and war, and this roadway is symbolic of the journey of figs, lemons, oranges and grapes, as well as the appropriation and divisions of lands and the assimilation of cultures. Since the 1600s, travellers would discover fruit trees planted along this route at missionaries and pueblos.

San Ysidro Fruit Park research: Dave at the ‘Outlets at The Border’ mall. The parking lot is along the border wall - you can see it in the background here. Outlets at the Border parking lot with the border wall at the background. Homes from Tijuana are on the other side of that wall.

In 2009 we made a portable fruit park on the Tijuana side of the border - which still exists. - Fallen Fruit - David Burns, Matias Viegener, Austin Young in collaboration with Giacomo Castagnola commissioned by Casa Del Tunel, Colonia Federal, Tijuana, Mexico.

From the future location of the San Ysidro Fruit Park, -can see mountain apples in the foreground and a neighborhood of Tijuana on the hills in the distance. A few blocks away from the project site- there is a containment center for people who have been detained for crossing the border- they remain there until deported. The community center is a hub of activity and the fruit park will be on the same park block.

We asked the neighbors where they would like additional fruit trees throughout San Ysidro - at the San Ysidro public library - the park is a public art commision from the City of San Diego.

What is your recipe for survival in a time of almost only bad news?

We don't focus on or give power to negative information, however, one of our favorite ‘recipes’ is making fruit jam to share with others. It’s so easy to make fruit jam and you can use practically any kind of fruit.

We started this project over fifteen years ago, and early on we started making jams at galleries and museums with the public; instead of following recipes, we simply followed ratios and experimented with flavours and combinations. You can pretty much make jam from anything, but of course, some things are better tasting than others. Below are instructions on how to make Fallen Fruit Jam using any fresh foraged fruit you have available. These instructions are for performing the ‘JAM’ in a gallery or in your home.

HOW TO MAKE FALLEN FRUIT™ JAM:

PREP: The basic combination for the jam is five cups of fruit, one packet of pectin, and 5 cups of sugar.

The fruit should be cut into small pieces, with seeds and stems removed. Why sugar? Sugar is an excellent preserving agent, contributes flavour, and aids in jelling. Keeping these proportions is essential. There is a lower-sugar pectin available... check around. Sugar and salt are the two natural and oldest forms of preservative in the world and totally natural.

PROCESS: Put the fruit into a pot and add ⅓ of a cup of pectin (or one box from a store) and bring to a boil. If the fruit is juicy do not add any water – if the combination of fruit is dry, add about ⅓ cup of water. Stir continually, gently keeping the mixture active and evenly heating. Once the jam has come to a boil, add the same amount of sugar as fruit to the pot – 5 cups of fruit = 5 cups of sugar. Again, mix and stir while it is heating up yet again. After a second (rolling) boil, the jam is done. The best flavour comes from the least amount of cooking. Cooking too long will not not make a better jam!

COMPLETION: When the jam has boiled a second time, ladle it into sterilized jars*, apply labels and write the ingredients on the lid. Once the jam jars are sealed, turn the lids over so the jam jar is upside down – this helps heat the jar lid and ensures a proper vacuum seal for long-term storage*. Take one for yourself and leave the rest on the shared table for others. Consider swapping jams with friends and neighbours. (* Sterilize jars by running them through the dishwasher or boiling them for five minutes.)

ADDITIONAL NOTES: This basic recipe should fill about six to eight 8oz jars depending on the combination of fruit and the size of the chop. Herbs, edible flowers, spices, etc. should be added after the jam is finished – when the finished jam is transferred to the jars.

FAVOURITE COMBINATIONS:

PLUM JAM – a mix of red and black plums (and yellow if you like) – a mix of plum types will provide depth of flavour. Prepare the fruit – wash and cut the plums into quarters (or smaller) and remove the pits. Prepare enough plums for about five cups of chopped fruit. If the plums are large in size, cut the fruit into smaller pieces. If the plums are under-ripe, then cut the plums into very small pieces – the size of a cube of sugar or smaller. Cook the jam as described above. Once ready, jar and seal. Add organic edible flowers to the bottom of the jam jars – roses, hibiscus, and lavender are excellent added to plum jams.

MIXED CITRUS -- a combination of citrus makes the jam taste like the brightness of a summer day. Try a combination of mandarins, lemons, grapefruits, kumquats, and more. Do not use oranges for juicing or eating – the flavors are too mild; if you can find Bitter Oranges (Naranja Agria), definitely add some in the mix. Citrus should be prepared with all of the seeds and the white (pith) removed. The skins of lemons, tangerines, mandarins, and kumquats are edible and add flavour, colour and texture. The skins of grapefruit are not desirable. Add a few tablespoons of citrus zest to the mix to intensify the citrus flavour. Cook the jam as described above. Once the jam is ready, you can add extras to the jars – hot peppers (jalapenos or similar), tea leaves (earl grey), and organic herbs (chamomile or hibiscus) are excellent additions to citrus jams.

Fallen Fruit Jam poster

Foraged grapes at a Public Fruit Jam

Neighborhood Score, Fallen Fruit / David Allen Burns and Austin Young, 2014. To create this artwork, In 2014 we asked via social media ‘What makes a good neighborhood’ the responses were used to construct a language score on how to experience a neighborhood (like a recipe).

What is something that we all (each of us, personally) could do to make the world a better place when this disaster comes to an end? It is clear that the world will no longer be the same again, but at the same time...there is a kind of magic in every new beginning.

We are always focused on making the world a better place. Our artwork Endless Orchard is a way that everyone anywhere can participate. It’s easy to make small actions that strengthen the community and make the planet more beautiful. If everyone planted a fruit tree or grape vine in front of their home, business or community centre, we could collaboratively make an Endless Orchard. There is no reason why people should have a lack of food or green spaces in urban areas. Fear is very easy to grow. Love is also very easy to grow. We are focused on promoting messages of love and joy. A fruit tree is a great symbol of generosity. And fruit trees are endlessly giving (fruit) without expecting anything in return. :)

Youth from Ann Street Elementary help plant fruit trees for the Endless Orchard and Monument to Sharing at Los Angeles State Historic Park, Los Angeles, 2017.

Volunteers from Historic Old Town Victorville in California help plant fruit trees for the Public Fruit Park of Victorville at Eva Dell Park, 2019. Fallen Fruit’s San Bernardino, California - part of Fallen Fruit of San Bernardino, commissioned by SB Arts Connection.

Group photo of the community volunteers in York, Alabama that co-created ‘Mother Patch’ — a public watermelon patch as an artwork installation along the historic railway for everyone to share. A project supported by Coleman Center for the Arts, 2015.

Huerto Sin Fin / Endless Orchard, Tulum, Mexico, commissioned by AKI AORA in collaboration with Azulik. Portrait of a community volunteer that helped plant fruit trees for the Endless Orchard and also the Mayan village of Francisco Uh May, 2019.

Monument to Sharing, by Fallen Fruit, LA State Historic Park, Los Angeles, 2017, Created as a permanent installation of 32 orange trees installed along the historic railway that once transported citrus from Southern California to the east coast of the United States. The trees are memorialized with a 32 line poem with the same title that was collected by talking to residents about what makes a neighborhood special.

Austin and David during a fruit picking tour of a neighborhood in Los Angeles with Nic Cha Kim for Spectrum News, 2019.

The art world and the culture sector is one of the most affected. What is the main lesson the art world should learn from all this? How do you imagine the post-pandemic art scene?

We think museums are essential places and real life experiences are essential. Art has the power to change the world. At all times. In times of darkness or uncertainty, art is necessary and important.

One of the things that we can learn from 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 celebrating the world. Sometimes the celebration is a mourning, a lamentation, a crying or longing…. Other times, it is a kaleidoscope, or a mirror of beauty and awe. Art and creative culture is a necessary form of humanity – it is one of the ways that all people celebrate the world. Art will only become more powerful and more important during times like these. 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. Maybe international art fairs will become less important if people feel at risk to go. Or will going to art happenings become an act of civil disobedience? Creating beauty is radical. There is no mutually exclusive substitution for beauty – the real and the imagined both exist in this world.

David and Austin with curator Tamar Mayer for the exhibition Plan(e)t - speaking in front the Fallen Fruit art installation ‘Promised Land’ 2019, currently on view at the Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel. The exhibition will be extended through May 2021.

‘Spektro Completo’ by Fallen Fruit, at Orto Botanico Palermo, Sicily, 2019, an immersive installation art currently on view when the world is back open. Photo: Eliana Lombardo

'SUPERSHOW’ detail of the art installation by Fallen Fruit- found ‘Statue of David’ against Orto Botanico pattern at the PDC Design Gallery, 2020, Los Angeles

“Teatro del Sole / Theater of the Sun,” by Fallen Fruit, installation artwork at Palazzo Butera, created for Manifesta 12, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, 2018.

"Event Horizon,” by Fallen fruit, artwork installation created for Kuntshall 3.14 for the city of Bergen, Norway, 2019.

"From the Garden and Field,” by Fallen Fruit, created for the “Food: Bigger than the Plate” exhibition for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 2019. Originally an immersive art installation, this print is currently available at the gift shop at the V&A.

***

The contemporary art collective Fallen Fruit is one of the over 400 artists that will take part in the exhibition “When the Globe is Home” (curated by Claudio Scorretti and Irina Ungureanu), which was expected to open at Gallerie delle Prigioni, Imago Mundi’s cultural centre in Treviso (Italy) last March, but had to be postponed due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. The title of the exhibition has been revealed to be a prophetic one, considering that now we are all experiencing a situation where our home has become our globe. Based on this, Imago Mundi (the contemporary art project promoted by Luciano Benetton) has launched a digital project that is taking place now on its social media accounts (Facebook @ImagoMundiArt; Instagram @Imago_Mundi_Art), asking its great artistic community (over 26,000 artists from all over the world, from Lithuania to Libya and Hawaii, from Fiji to Nepal and Canada) how they are living in this particular time.

***

Fallen Fruit is an art collaboration originally conceived in 2004 by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young. Since 2013, David Burns and Austin Young have continued the collaborative work.  Fallen Fruit began by mapping fruit trees growing on or over public property in Los Angeles. The collaboration has expanded to include serialized public projects, site-specific art installations and happenings in various cities around the world. By always working with fruit as a material or media, the catalogue of projects and works reimagine public interactions with the margins of urban space, systems of community and narrative real-time experience.

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