‘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….Fallen Fruit investigates interstitial urban spaces, bodies of knowledge, and new forms of citizenship.’ – Fallen Fruit website excerpt
David Burns and Austin Young use fruit as a starting point for artistic exploration. Working under the name Fallen Fruit (originally with Matias Viegener) the duo has produced a series of participatory artworks that explore the cultural and social lives of fruit trees. They began this work in 2004 by mapping the location of fruit trees in public space, using digital platforms to make fruit trees more visible a common resource. From there, the duo moved to planting new fruit trees as part of participatory events that bring together local communities, plus cultural and municipal leaders. The Endless Orchard online mapping platform invites visitors to log their local public fruit trees and to plant new trees of their own, participating in what the duo call the world’s largest public artwork ‘a noncontiguous public fruit orchard planted, mapped shared and cared for by everyone who participates’.
Hope Builders: Fallen Fruit – PBS PSA for KVCR, produced and directed by Maria Burton.
Connections to eco-sustainability:
“Trees that are planted in public space save money because of their impact on the environment and public health. Public fruit trees benefit the environment by catching rainwater they also remove CO2 and other pollutants from the air. They reduce crime – there are several theories as to why, whether they draw more people into public spaces, they foster community cohesion. It changes the nature and feeling of a neighbourhood” – Austin Young
Fallen Fruit combine multiple forms of artistic, cultural and environmental production, engaging a variety of different audiences in their work. Planting fruit trees delivers direct eco-social benefits for soil and air, as well as providing a long-lasting healthy food sources for humans and other species. However as Young points out, their practice also has an aesthetic dimension. It changes the feeling of a neighbourhood and shifts the relationships within it.
Transformative creative practices:
“Sometimes people don’t understand how planting fruit trees could be art. But when I think about art in the 21st century I think that the role art has in our lives is to capture our imagination about something that we think we already know, and allow us to open our mind even more. The work we do, we do that in a way that doesn’t look like a photograph, a painting or a sculpture but the impression and the effect it has on people has the same effect as art is supposed to do.” – David Burns
When tree planting is performed as a cultural practice, the acts of digging, planting and nurturing fruit trees become part of a wider set of imaginative explorations – in this case, Fallen Fruit ask: what might future cities be like, if shared food growing was prioritised? Fallen Fruit’s recent creations explore historical depictions of fruit in institutional archives. They have created large-scale wallcoverings that blend botanical and creative renderings of fruit. These are immersive portraits of specific places, through which fruit has travelled – as commodities, scientific specimens and forms of pleasure.
Visit the Fallen Fruit website – https://fallenfruit.org/
Visit the Endless Orchard fruit map – https://endlessorchard.com/
“So they started as a collective of people mapping fruit trees in a city…there wasn’t any transformational narrative at the beginning, but then it started to grow when they started adding all kinds of art”. – Markéta Dolejšová
Fallen Fruit – David Allen Burns and Austin Young
Linked video – Hope Builders: Fallen Fruit – PBS PSA for KVCR; produced and directed by Maria Burton.