Fallen Fruit Collective is coming to Reno

OIn the Nevada Museum of Art’s online calendar of events, one of the most recent installations has an abnormally long date of September 1, 2022 to September 1, 2030. This is only an estimate though – fruit trees properly cared for will live much longer than just eight years.

“Monument to Sharing” is a new installation by artists David Allen Burns and Austin Young, who operate together as the Fallen Fruit Collective. The piece is made up of 21 fruit trees, various edible pollinating plants, and a patch of berries, and is currently installed at the Wilbur D. May Sculpture Plaza on the grounds of the Nevada Museum of Art.

Austin Young and David Allen Burns form the Fallen Fruit Collective. Photo: Kimberly Genevieve, courtesy Nevada Museum of Art

“It’s a sculpture garden, and we literally look at all the plants as sculptures — they happen to be alive,” Burns said. “And so the idea of ​​a monument is less about thinking that monuments should be a physical object that represents an idea or a name. And instead, what if a monument is an action or a gesture ?

Apparently, “Monument to Sharing” will look and function like an edible garden, with audiences encouraged to harvest whatever produce they wear, though the artists believe there won’t be any fruit for at least a few years. The artistic ethos behind the sculpture comes from examining themes of resource stewardship, community and how public space is used – ideas the Fallen Fruit Collective has spent nearly two decades exploring. in projects all over the world.

The collective, along with several community members from Victorville, California, installed the Fallen Fruit of Victorville Fruit Park in 2020. Photo courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art

“We started in 2004 by mapping fruit in public space in Los Angeles,” Young said. “We were just looking at this ignored resource that existed in the public space at the time. We started thinking about how to connect people in the community through this resource and thinking about public and private space and how we could use public space as a way to share resources. Sharing has therefore always been a central theme of our work.

This original work still exists as part of the endless orchard, an online collaboration that allows people to map publicly available fruit trees in their area. The Fallen Fruit Collective has since created other projects that use fruit plants to build community and encourage participation, such as “Urban Fruit Trails, Omaha” which used a network of apple trees to create a walking trail with encouraging bilingual signage. people to take the apples to maturity, or another iteration of “Monument to Share” in the Los Angeles State Historic Park – 32 orange trees in individual planters bearing quotes collected from people living in the surrounding neighborhood. members of the public are invited to help plant the trees, maintain them and share their fruits.

“Our work has always been about trust because public space is normally run by fear and fear of what people are going to do,” Young said. “We always want to turn that around and think, you know, we should trust each other and we can share.”

A living portrait

According to Burns, while each project may appear “chaotic and maximalist” in the end result, each plant and element of the sculpture is carefully chosen not just for its aesthetic appeal or ecological necessity, but seen through a local cultural and historical context. . For the NMA installation, the artists referenced the Indigenous heritage of Truckee Meadows and the history of European colonialism and trade.

“It’s a balance of select plants that are native to this Sierra Nevada and the coastal plains, kind of going across a few hundred miles,” Burns said. “And then that’s combined with things that have been brought here over the last two hundred years that are mostly European and some are Asian, so plums or quinces or pomegranates or figs. It’s about creating this kind of new way of seeing how plants could tell a story about Reno.

New in this episode, Neverthelessis the addition of edible pollinating plantssaid Burns, a tribute to the trail that once connected Reno to San Francisco.

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Fallen Fruit Collective often spends weeks or even months researching the town they are in building The artists read historical documents and, more often than not, just chat with the residents. In the case of NMA’s “Monument,” however, both artists had a pre-existing knowledge base.

“It’s kind of lucky that Austin was raised here,” Burns said. And Burns has visited Reno several times. The artists also sought advice from local expert Tom Stille of River School Farm.

The project also includes a written aspect in the form of Fallen Fruit Magazine – a collaborative collage made by community members that the artists will collect and print.

The artists invite the community to contribute to a related project, Fallen Fruit Magazine. They released previous releases in London, San Francisco, New Orleans, San Bernardino, and Charlotte. Image courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art.

“We create writing prompts,” Burns said. “Like, we talk about myths and legends, and then we just say, ‘When I was a kid, period, period, period. But what they are, more than anything, is hopefully summoning someone to feel compelled to share something personal about Reno. We’re less interested in a simple fact, but like a poem would be cool, or something you’d hear in a coffee shop.

Attendees of the museum’s first Thursday event on September 1 were invited to contribute to the collage. The invitation will continue on First Thursdays for the next six months.

NMA Director of Communications and Marketing Rebecca Eckland participates in the Fallen Fruit Magazine project at the event on the first Thursday of September 1. Photo: Matt Bieker

Much of the Collective’s association with the NMA is a long-term one. “Monument to Sharing” is considered a permanent installation, and in fact, it is expected to produce its first batch of fruit in 2025, when the museum’s 50,000 square foot expansion is set to open.

Burns and Young hope to have most of the plants installed by the end of October. After that, it will be up to museum patrons and passers-by to decide how the resources will be distributed, whether there is enough for everyone, and what a single piece of food can mean to whoever receives it.

“The fruit is always political,” Burns said. “You could come to the museum and instead of just seeing something and telling your family or friends about it, you could leave the museum and say, ‘I’m going to pick out a few items and then do something with them. So that the ideas you learned at the museum will revive because you only have a handful of rosemary. The rosemary has nothing to do with what you saw upstairs, but now they’re connected. »

Fallen Fruit Collective”Monument to Sharingcan be viewed indefinitely on the grounds of the Nevada Museum of Art.

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