A SPECTER is haunting our cities: barren landscapes with foliage and flowers, but nothing to eat.”1
Fallen Fruit began in 2004 when, in response to a Journal of Aesthetics & Protest call for generative solutions to pressing social and political issues, David Burns, Matias Viegener & Austin Young identified an abundant but under-eaten public resource as meliorative to alienation, disengagement and want.
Coining the term “public fruit” to describe the bounty of fruit that either grows in or overhangs public space and thus occupies a legal grey area in regard to ownership, the trio stepped out to survey the public fruit in their neighborhood. Offering abundance and a culture of sharing, Fallen Fruit’s initial map of Silver Lake’s public fruit subsequently inspired the mapping of other neighborhoods in LA and far beyond, while their practice, although always fruit related, has diversified.
Investigating urban space, ideas of neighborhood, and new forms of located citizenship, Fallen Fruit’s projects all deploy fruit in some manner to talk about reciprocal relationships, social rituals, sustainability and the intersection of private and public property. Their work includes an ongoing series of narrative photographs, videos, public events or collaborative performances, public-service posters for bus shelters as well as interactive installations and murals.
Every day there is food somewhere going to waste. We encourage you to find it, tend and harvest it. If you own property, plant food on your perimeter. Share with the world and the world will share with you. Barter, don’t buy! Give things away! You have nothing to lose but your hunger!”2
1: Fallen Fruit website. 2: ibid
Acción Fruta Urbana/Urban Fruit Action
For Performing Public Space, Fallen Fruit planted 21 fruit trees in donated barrels and sited them in Colonia Federal. In so doing they have more than doubled the number of all trees in the area (not just fruit trees) and kicked off an initiative by Casa del Tunel to further green the area. For the six weeks of the exhibition, Acción Fruta Urbana/Urban Fruit Action lined the Mexican side of the border beside Casa del Tunel. After this, each tree was adopted by a neighborhood resident, who determined its final placement. The barrels for the trees were painted in collaboration with Peruvian artist Giacomo Castagnola, a resident of Tijuana. Fallen Fruit worked with Guy Hatzvi on simple irrigation and grey water collection systems that can be adapted by local residents.
The purpose of Acción Fruta Urbana is to call attention to the neglect of urban neighborhoods on the border and around the world, and to provide people with the tools to change the character of their cities and their lives. The artists of Fallen Fruit chose to work with fruit trees for both their symbolism of sweetness and goodness as well as the pragmatic changes they can bring into our lives, creating sustainable foods based on generosity and sharing.
Fallen Fruit, Owen Driggs and Casa del Tunel would like to thank Kelly Jones of Jax Logistics for donating the barrels for Acción Fruta Urbana, and Guy Hatzvi for his generosity and expertise.
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