Section: Arts

When life gives you lemons, draw self-portraits on them: Fallen Fruit grows at the Gallery

When life gives you lemons, draw self-portraits on them: Fallen Fruit grows at the Gallery

Cora Markowitz, Collegian

By Bailey Blaker

“We don’t like lines,” Fallen Fruit member David Burns said to the growing throng of students that appeared in the Gund Gallery lobby yesterday afternoon. Members of the crowd were encouraged to come up to the lemon-laden table in order to partake in Lemonade Stand, a participatory exhibition hosted by the artist collective, Fallen Fruit. Controlled chaos ensued as students and community members alike chose various lemons from the table.

Everyone congregated in different corners of the lobby and proceeded to draw citrus self-portraits. The results of the portraits were as eclectic as the people in the room: they ranged from minimalistic smiley faces to more realistic renderings to a singular portrait of a moose.

After finishing their portraits, the participants were each photographed with their yellow counterparts. Once photographed, everyone was given a glass of lemonade in exchange for their fruity artwork.

Amid the crowd of eager participants in Lemonade Stand, it was hard to imagine that the origin of the group responsible, known as Fallen Fruit, centered around protest and civic activism.

Austin Young, David Burns and Matias Viegener founded the collective in 2004 in response to a question posed by the Los Angeles-based Journal of Aesthetics and Protest: “Is it possible to use the agency of activism to create a project without opposition?”

The group’s answer to this question came in the form of a photographic series focusing on the publicly owned fruit trees in their California neighborhood. The group travelled around their neighborhood and photographed over 100 trees.

Samantha Leder ’17 poses with her citrusy self portrait.
Samantha Leder ’17 poses with her citrus-y self portrait.

According to Burns, the motivation behind the series was to find out “who the public is and what it means.” For the collective, the public was not only a group of people, but a work of art. “It’s not really the portrait [that matters]; it’s the gallery of people that’s the art, and that’s how we perceive it,” Burns said.

Fallen Fruit’s art extends beyond Lemonade Stand and includes community jam-making sessions and other fruit-related exhibitions. Fallen Fruit has traveled around the country lecturing at various colleges and performing in a myriad of museum spaces.

The event yesterday in the Gund Gallery was unusual, according to Young. “This [event] is different though because we are … actually doing our art here,” he said. “We normally do exhibitions in museum spaces.”

This distinctive experience left a lasting impression on its participants. Lucy Bhuyan ’18 said the event led her to “understand that although fallen fruit might appear to be useless, we can still use it.” In her eyes, the act of drawing on a lemon was an “interesting and artistic way of utilizing everything we have.”

Lemonade Stand is not only an opportunity to look at art in a new way, but it is also a commentary on community. After the event comes to a close, the lemons become a visual representation of the community that created them.

This transformation is the ultimate goal for Fallen Fruit. The group tries to bring people together through their art and, of course, the promise of free lemonade doesn’t hurt.


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