The ecoartspace blog will feature artist profiles and reviews of exhibitions, as well as writings on ecological systems. We are interested in presenting work that artists are making in collaboration with scientists, and poetics including spoken word, opera, and performative work. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing, and printmaking are all welcome media. Speculative architecture and public art are also encourage. Submissions for posts can be sent to We look forward to hearing from you!

You can access the previous ecoartspace blog HERE (2008-2019)

ecoartspace, LLC

Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
  • Tuesday, February 01, 2022 8:33 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Fossil Memory, Various collected mosses and liches, springtails and dwarf isopods, soil, rocks, activated carbon, glass, water, brain coral, pillow, grow light and aquarium. 18 x 16 x 16 inches (2020) 

    An Interview with Christopher Lin by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Christopher Lin is a constructor of worlds, our worlds. His images create a vantage point into a reality where humanity no longer exists. His work sits at the cusp of the surreal and the actual often creating sci-fi-esc installations and works that use actual fossils. During times of our own dystopian reality, Christopher’s imaging relates what is real to a vision of what could be without us.

    Hello Christopher, thank you for this interview. Let us jump right in.

    Your process involves both deep research, collaboration with the past, and imagination. Would you discuss your process to create these works? 

    My practice visualizes the ecologies we create and inhabit in the Anthropocene through surreal collaborations with nature. Combining elements of scientific investigation and material exploration, I make performative sculptures and installations that incorporate familiar objects interacting in unfamiliar ways to encourage viewers to question the framework of our everyday world. More interested in the poetics of re-contextualization than representation, I collect, deconstruct, and recombine materials to create chimeras that reflect on the existential trauma of environmental anxiety. These ephemeral constructions allude to their impermanence and, by proxy, our own.

    Zuru, zuru (Drifting), Carious collected mosses and lichens, springtails and dwarf isopods, soil, activated carbon, glass bottles, water, sand, sea glass, and aquarium, 10 ½ x 16 ¼ x 8 3/8 in, 2020

    My ongoing body of work, titled Future Fossils, explores the eventuality of human absence. I have long been inspired and fascinated by fossils of extinct species in distant eras, memento moris which provoke thoughts of our own inevitable end and of the material world we will leave behind. In Future Fossils, I approach the concept of human extinction not through pessimism, but as the inevitable and unavoidable truth to our existence—one that also contains incredible beauty in its transience. Influenced by Buddhist teachings and environmental ecology, I connect fragments from both creation myths and extinction events to visualize this eventuality that is critical to understanding the whole cycle of existence from beginning to end. This ongoing project is an exploration to attain a better understanding of our place in this world both spiritually and scientifically.

    I collect, deconstruct, and recombine materials to create chimeras that reflect on the existential trauma of environmental anxiety.

    Symbiont, Non-rebreather oxygen mask and pleurocarp moss, 3 x 12 x 4 in, 2014

    In your practice as an artist, you combine real found organic elements and place them into often sterile and surreal installations. What is your goal in showcasing your environmental activism in an otherworldly form? 

    My installations are constructed in this manner to reveal the science fiction nature of today’s world, its material construction, and its values. We often look at science fiction as some kind of distant fantasy, an impossible dystopia, but we are currently living in yesterday’s science fiction. With the pace of material production and technological advances, we do not have the perspective to process the many changes that become quickly integrated into our everyday lives. A few decades ago, the idea of indoor vertical farming replete with grow lights and hydroponic systems would seem like some distant dream, but today it is not only possible but happening in many places in the world. These advances have obvious benefits but also less obvious consequences, and buried even deeper within this aspiration is a kind of dystopian metaphor of technological survival. By revealing the science fiction reality of today’s surroundings, I hope to make some of our contemporary ideas and advances more unfamiliar, despite how normal they appear on the surface, so we can better understand where we are and where we might be going.

    We often look at science fiction as some kind of distant fantasy, an impossible dystopia, but we are currently living in yesterday’s science fiction.

    Sprechgesang Institute, Homepage Image

    Perhaps with that understanding we can move towards a better future! And speech is part of that shift in focus. You are a co-director of Sprechgesang Institute which is a place for cross-disciplinary creatives to produce new language related to art. What are your hopes for the roles of language and interdisciplinary work?

    Developing an interdisciplinary language is critical to representing our contemporary world because it is so quickly changing both in its foundational ideas but also in its sounds, textures, and tastes. As a collective, Sprechgesang Institute is centered around performance as a medium to conduct cross-disciplinary experimentation, and our projects have ranged from lecture series to dining experiences to internet plays. It has been exciting to work between these nontraditional performative frameworks through the lens of collaboration and reinterpretation. Our members include a cellist, a cheesemonger, a neuroscientist, a journalist, as well as various artists, and the products of our collaborative syntheses are often resonant. Through our explorations of new in-between languages, we are searching for new forms, methods, and approaches to question conventional methods of understanding and meaning making. Recently we discussed topics of mathematics such as cellular automata and pythagorean music in Idio-Maths, a continuation of our experimental lecture series, and we are currently working on a contemporary reinterpretation of Lachrimae, a collection of variations of mourning songs from the 1600s by John Dowland, himself a plague survivor, which seems all too fitting for our current moment of prolonged loss.

    I hope to make some of our contemporary ideas and advances more unfamiliar, despite how normal they appear on the surface, so we can better understand where we are and where we might be going.

    Where we begin and end, ink, soap, water, soil, plastic vials and bubble wands, end table, and sensitive plants (Mimosa pudica), 2015

  • Tuesday, February 01, 2022 9:42 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace February 2022 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Monday, January 31, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


    January 31, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist Stacy Levy.

    "People often think that nature ends where the city begins. My projects are designed to allow a site within the built environment to tell its ecological story to the people that inhabit it. As a sculptor, my interest in the natural world rests both in art and science. I use art as a vehicle for translating the patterns and processes of the natural world."

    "In my practice, I search for sites that provide the opportunity to make visible some of the forces at work on the site. Interested in watersheds, tides, growth and erosion, I make projects that show how nature functions in an urban setting. My previous projects have been about invisible microorganisms and their complicated relationships of eating and being eaten; spiraling hydrological patterns of a stream, mosaic of growth in a vacant lot, prevailing winds and their effects on vegetation, the flow of rainwater through a building."

    "As a sculptor making large-scale public installations in rivers, streets, parking lots, airports and nature centers, I frequently work as part of a collaborative team seamlessly merging sculpture into the architecture, the topography, and the storm water requirements of the site. For Rain Ravine (2016) at the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (a Living Building Challenge Project), I worked with architects, landscape architects and engineers to direct all the roof rainwater through the artwork. For other previous projects installed both on and in rivers, I have worked with the Coast Guard on the Ohio River, the Army Corps of Engineers on the Schuylkill River, and city and state municipalities on the Hudson River."

    "Through intricate coordination, logistical planning, and art-making in my barn studio, my work and research gives visual form to natural processes that would otherwise remain invisible. To build these visual metaphors, I mesh the clarity of diagrams, the beauty of natural forms and the visceral sense of the site. My practice is motivated by imaging what is too small to be seen, too invisible to be considered or too vast to be understood."

    Stacy Levy is an artist who works with rain. Her projects give a home to rain on many sites: from parking lots to nature centers. She also works to make visible how watersheds are the capillaries of the land, carrying precious rainwater from sky to the sea. She works with urban streams, rivers, tides & rainwater. Her recent projects utilize storm water runoff, to make rainwater an asset to the site. Many of her projects register natural processes and changes in nature over the course of a day, a season or a several years. Levy is the Stormwater Artist-in-Residence for the City of Lancaster. She has been awarded the Henry Meigs Environmental Leadership Award, a PennFuture Award for Women in Conservation, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

    Featured Images: ©Stacy Levy, Bushkill Curtain (2011)Springside Rain Wall and Garden (2008), Rain Ravine (2016), Three Views of a River (2016), Ridge & Valley (2009), Missing Waters (2020)

  • Monday, January 24, 2022 3:24 PM | Callie Smith


    January 24, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist Mary Mattingly.

    Featured here is her recent project Limnal Lacrimosa, a free public art installation currently on view at 5 6th Avenue West in Kalispell, Montana, in the valley of Glacier National Park. As the days grow shorter, the installation is open Mondays from 5-6pm by appointment and now also for listening hours on Sunday evenings.

    Limnal Lacrimosa is sited in the original home of the Kalispell Malting and Brewing Company. It celebrates the richness of the valley, from the glaciers and lakes to the cultural histories of art and ceramics.

    To build the exhibition, Mattingly has been collecting snow melt and rainwater, some that has dripped through holes in the building’s roof. Cycling water through tubing just below the ceiling, she can evoke the feeling of rain inside the building. Like a large water clock, the building is a meditation on water-courses. The drips are caught in lachrymatory vessels while the sounds of the droplets hitting the containers echo throughout the space. Eventually the vessels fill, water spills onto the floor and the cycle repeats itself. The drips keep time.

    The artwork was prompted by Kōbō Abe’s novel The Woman in the Dunes, a story about two people who must forever remove sand from a building. It is also driven by the speed of geologic change in Glacier National Park, or Glacier Time. Over the course of nine (Gregorian calendar) months, the exhibition space inside of 5 6th Avenue West will transform several times.

    Mary Mattingly is known for her large-scale installations that address ecology, such as Swale, a mobile free public food forest on a barge in New York City, and an education center for estuarial plants on the Thames in London. Her photographs and sculptures are represented by the Robert Mann Gallery in New York. Her work has been exhibited at Storm King Art Center, the International Center of Photography, Seoul Art Center, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Public Library, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Palais de Tokyo. She visited Kalispell for the first time in 2020.

    Featured Images: ©Mary Mattingly, "Limnal Lacrimosa" (2021).

  • Monday, January 17, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


    January 17, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist  Diane Burko

    Highlighted are a selection of works from her recent solo exhibition titled "Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change," curated by Mary D. Garrard and Norma Broude, which was on view at the American University Museum from August 28, 2021 - December 12, 2021. The exhibition was included in the New York Times' list of Best Art Exhibitions of 2021.

    "What is so amazing about my studio practice now that I’m in my 70s is the new kind of freedom I feel to do whatever - to experiment and play with new materials and tools. New possibilities opened up with my using acrylic paints instead of oils, with the current Reef project. And with the canvas repositioned horizontally - no longer vertically on a wall - has come radical changes in my process. These actions with new material and tools have introduced possibilities I had never imagined.”

    "[The World Map Series is a] 56-foot-long suite of paintings. It melds my long-time interest in cartography with my deep concern for our environment being increasingly threatened by climate change. My practice is devoted to this issue. In the early 2000’s, I first investigated the polar region’s melting glaciers. Now I’ve turned my attention to our oceans coral reef ecosystems."

    "Being that climate change is a global problem I decided to take on the whole world at once by referencing a world map of glaciers, followed with a map of all the reefs in the world. Each was formatted with a horizontal freeze going across the top, on a 50’ x 88“ canvas. One painting just seemed to lead to another variation until there were six of them. I then decided that each category needed a visual conclusion - a square 50” x 50“ for each suite. However, in June I decided each still needed an exclamation point - so I added another 2 feet to each resulting in a 56 foot long series of paintings."

    Also included in "Seeing Climate Change" was a series of lenticular prints, what Burko refers to as "time-based media."

    "This first series was created in 2017 in collaboration with Anna Tas, an artist whose métier is 'lenticular.' Together we combined her technical knowledge as well as aesthetic skills, with my on-site experience of bearing witness in the field and in research labs. These circular presentations are referential - providing multiple interpretations spanning a submarine’s 'portal' view under water, a satellite’s aerial perspective to a microscope’s revealing lens. Each piece utilizes the interactive nature of metaphor, inviting the viewer to contemplate and discover. The seductive beauty furthers the conversation about how the natural world is impacted by climate change. Technically, a lenticular print consists of 30 individual frames that are interlaced to become the dynamic image you see before you."

    Diane Burko focuses on monumental geological phenomena. Since 2006, her practice has been at the intersection of art, science and the environment, devoted to the urgent issues of climate change. Her work about glacial melt reflects expeditions to the three largest ice fields in the world. Burko is now focusing on the world’s oceans and the dramatic bleaching of coral reef ecosystems. She continually gains knowledge through visiting research labs and engaging with scientists at institutions such as the Norwegian Polar Institute, INSTAAR in Boulder, Colorado, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Tasmania, the Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Erik Cordes Lab at Temple University in Philadelphia. Burko is committed to public engagement. She makes herself available to wide audiences in an effort to convey her experiences and share her knowledge about the ways global warming impacts our planet.

    Featured Images: ©Diane Burko, "Unprecedented" (2021), “Reef Map 1” (2019), "World Map Series" (2019), "From Glaciers to Reefs" (2018), "Summer Heat 2" (2020).

  • Monday, January 10, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


    January 10, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artist Robin Lasser. Since 2004, Lasser has been collaborating with fellow artist Adrienne Pao on the Dress Tent project.

    "We are interested in the land and the body as sites of seduction. Dress Tents are a fusion of architecture, the body and the land played out through living sculpture, moving images and still photography. The Dress Tent project investigates desire from a female centered perspective and uses seduction as a vehicle to explore the relationship between the body and the land."

    By referencing modes of female representation such as “bare foot and in the kitchen” in the Picnic Dress Tent, or “mother nature” in the Greenhouse Dress Tent, the dress tents simultaneously utilize and address a history of fantasy associated with women. Through pop-culture humor, the Picnic Dress Tent examines our recreational activities in the landscape though playfully familiar scenarios that leave us to question and reexamine our flow of routine and our relationship to the body as site of cultural desire. A play on green house gasses and what it takes to be "green" in contemporary culture, the Greenhouse Dress Tent becomes a commentary on the current fashion of being “green.”

    The Ice Queen: Glacial Retreat Dress Tent, photographed at Mt. Shasta, California underneath one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, embodies the look of a sexy weather hazard/emergency worker in her white winter garb. The dress tent is a polar weather station and research lab, offering a space to ponder the earth, global warming, and glaciers. Underneath her skirt, a chorus of crickets varies their tune, in direct relationship to the climatic changes that have occurred across the globe, from the industrial revolution to the present and beyond. Overlaid upon the cricket chirping are weather reports from the locale in which the tent is stationed, as well as a weather reporter adding commentary on the ice queen's current temperature and state of mind.

    Salty Water: South Bay Salt Ponds Dress Tent, celebrates a Bay Area environmental victory: the restoration of the artificially-made salt ponds flanking the southern shores of the bay back to its original wetlands eco system. As far as changing the physical structure of southern San Francisco Bay, no industry, not even waste disposal, has had as great an impact as salt production. More of the south bay has been diked and ponded for salt than not. Salty Water Dress Tent, as an intervention in this landscape, becomes a marker for this important transition of the land back to its original state.

    Robin Lasser is an artist residing in Oakland, California. She is currently a Professor of Art at San Jose State University. Lasser produces photographs, video, site-specific installations and public art dealing with socially and culturally significant imagery and themes. Lasser often works in a collaborative mode with other artists, writers, students, public agencies, community organizations, and international coalitions to produce public art and promote public dialogue. Lasser exhibits her work nationally and internationally.

    Featured Images: ©Robin Lasser, Dress Tents, 2004-ongoing.

  • Tuesday, January 04, 2022 9:38 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Tatter, issue 3 : Blue

    A Blue of Bioluminescence

    Photographic investigations of ostracods.

    Words and images by Margaret LeJeune.

    Under a waxing moon, my partner and I sailed our 37-foot sailboat, Bear, down the Chesapeake from Annapolis to Solomons Island. The sky was inky and the water flat calm for the last few hours. As per tradition, we set the anchor and hopped in our dinghy to go to shore for a celebratory cocktail. As we pulled away from Bear, the waters around the dinghy began to light up like fireworks reflecting in a pool. Brilliant blue light danced on the surface. This was my first experience up close and personal with bioluminescent dinoflagellates, and it spurred my cross-species creative research with this incredible light source.  

    That summer changed the way I thought about the ocean. It was the first season that we lived aboard our boat, traveling, working, entertaining, and recreating by the weather and tides. The rhythm of the sea became the rhythm of our lives, dictating our movements and moods. The bioluminescent sighting set off a flurry of synapses and a flood of curiosity that fueled my desire to better understand marine ecology and the interconnections of life. 

    The following year we added Solomons Island to our sailing itinerary again, so that I could spend more time with the sparkling seas. I returned to the same anchorage at the same time of year, excited to see the bioluminescence. I was met with disappointment. The blue was absent.

    The following fall, I returned back to my academic position at Bradley University in Peoria, IL, with a need to understand why the blue light had been snuffed from the sea. I received a grant from the university to start a new research project investigating the power of bioluminescent organisms in the field of photography. I titled the project Growing Light; and I began by culturing the dinoflagellate Pyrocystis fusiformis, which are similar to the organisms I saw in the Chesapeake Bay. These single-cell marine plankton can generate a bright blue flash of light using a luciferin-luciferase chemical reaction. This biological capacity appears to be useful for startling potential predators, and it is commonly seen in the wave action at popular tourist sites, including Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico and Sam Mun Tsai Beach in Hong Kong.

    Continue reading on Tatter HERE

  • Monday, January 03, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


    January 3, 2022

    This week we recognize the work of artists  Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki, aka PlantBot Genetics.

    DesChene and Schmuki operate under the guise of PlantBot Genetics Inc., a parody of Big Agricultural Firms who skillfully manipulate current food production and distribution systems.

    "PlantBot Genetics combines tactical media and public space to promote critical thinking and political action on environmental issues. By imitating actual corporate practice, we underscore the potential consequences of the global corporatization of agriculture, the natural environment, and public space. Our products underscore the lack of transparency and corporate ‘grafting’ of food production and distribution by releasing humorous next-generation, robot-plant hybrids to prompt critical discussion on the environmental costs of intensive agricultural practices.”

    "If there were one word to explain what PlantBot Genetics is about, it would have to be PlantBots. Billions of people depend on what farmers do and in the future farmers will have to grow more food than they have in the past 10,000 years. We work alongside farmers to meet the demands of the future in sowing the seeds developed through synthetic biotechnology and automated chemical protection."

    “PlantBots are better suited to the 21st century. Our ability to manufacture PlantBots that can adapt and mutate to a wide range of climates will ensure unsurpassed yields. PlantBot Genetics inserts valid traits and materials from specific flora and fauna found in each locale. Several species designed by PlantBot Genetics have self-sown and contaminated the surrounding quadrants outside our lab. These rogue PlantBots may prove useful and have been captured in the following footage.”

    Wendy DesChene (Canada) and Jeff Schmuki (USA), collaborative team and married partners, began practicing asPlantBot Genetics in 2008. Each had extensive experience and awards as solo artists and both were raised with strong connections to the land around them. PlantBot Genetics create installations, interventions, and collaborations that combine activism, research, and social space in order to foster discussion and generate action in the area of ecological awareness. By linking environmental issues to a diverse array of creative operations and tactics, DesChene + Schmuki extend the “knowledge of the moment”, demonstrates the fragile connection between the natural world and personal action, and offers simple, positive changes that can be enacted to increase sustainability -- an activity that can be replicated long after the artists have moved on.

    Featured Images: ©PlantBot Genetics, MonsantraDinosauria,Floridada, and Spores, 2008-ongoing

  • Saturday, January 01, 2022 3:35 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace January 2022 e-Newsletter is HERE

  • Saturday, January 01, 2022 9:12 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, ‘Los Angelitos de Nuestra Señora del Jardin,” asynchronous repeat pattern, archival watercolor inks printed on organic fabric, dimensions variable, commissioned by the Vallarta Botanical Garden, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 2021.

    Interview with Fallen Fruit by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Combining place-based research, fantastical eden-like installation artworks and community activism, the collaborative behind Fallen Fruits has transformed the meaning of what art can do and provide for its audience. These artworks live and grow providing both nourishment for the body and soul by creating public resources that approach topics of displacement, immigration, and legality. All of this held within the colorful, inviting peels of a topic everyone can relate to: fruit! Fallen Fruit is a collaborative art project originally conceived in 2004 by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young. Since 2013, David Burns and Austin Young have continued the collaborative work. David Burns and Austin Young discuss their international projects, inspirations and process.
    Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview! It is absolutely thrilling to speak with you on your work. Let’s start at the beginning: how did the fruits come to fruition?

    In 2004, Fallen Fruit began as a response to an open-call for submission for volume three of The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. The basic question was asked, “is it possible to use the agency of activism, but without opposition?”

    We realized our response had to be something we already knew and something we were not paying attention to. We walked our neighborhood of Silverlake in north east Los Angeles, and discovered that over 100 fruit trees were growing in public spaces. Along alleys, sidewalks, and often branches of fruit trees planted on private property were abundantly overhanging fences well into public right-of-way. We mapped these publicly accessible fruit trees and wrote a text that questions who has a right to the fruit from these trees and who has the right to public space. We called the submission “Fallen Fruit” and this began our collaborative work. 

    People are so disconnected from each other in Los Angeles - we had the idea this would create social connections. Get out of the car, off the cell phone, and meet neighbors. We also realized we could activate the margins of public space to share resources like fruit bearing trees.

    During our interventions, people would tell family histories and stories about fruit. People were excited to connect with their family and cultural rituals, the natural world, and each other. In the end, we created a call to action that could benefit everyone, including the environment, and it does not make anyone wrong.

    We have been working on this project for over 17 years now. The project is always collaborative, the artworks are process oriented and research based. We do not have a studio and the work is always site specific. We have a philosophy that what we create is a body of artwork that is living and growing - literally and figuratively. 

    Image credit: Artists David Allen Burns and Austin Young with Curator Catherine Flood researching the V&A's botanical drawings collection. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2019.

    It is so exciting to see work that surpasses the limits of the traditional gallery and into an activist space that, as you say, “does not make anyone wrong.” And the title “Fallen Fruit” is so distinctive. What led to this title and how has this title led your collaborative work?

    FALLEN FRUIT is from Leviticus. It references an old Roman law:

    When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.

    You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.

    At first, we took this message literally. Drawing maps, walking cities, and thinking about messages of sharing and generosity. We explored the real world in real time and focused on fruit trees growing on the margins of public space in neighborhoods around the world. And everywhere we are invited to make art, we learn deeply about people and places.

    …everywhere we are invited to make art, we learn deeply about people and places.

    In our current work, we are focused on research based installation artworks. These works are also about place and activate historic collections, original photography, and now uses limits of architecture as the frame. The works explore collective meanings, cultural mythologies, and celebrate geographical locations. Our art and process has expanded in dynamic ways. We are exploring issues of identity, cultural memory, and historical artifacts. We love nuances of collective histories that synthesize concepts in themes of legacy and the public realm.

    For example, we have discovered that history is often bi-located, meaning that what is written and told as the historic truth and located geography is often actually in reference to something that happened elsewhere or its original thought is actually from somewhere else. Like the quote from Leviticus is an old Roman Law. Or that fruit moved westward with pioneers following and Manifest Destiny  - an idea that originated in the eastern states of the United States, but it was culturally actualized in a racially motivated movement to the west terminating in Portland, Oregon to be specific aka “the Oregon Trail.”

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, “Paradise,” documentation image, recontextualized selections from the permanent collection with custom made repeat pattern wallcovering,  dimensions variable, commissioned by Portland Art Museum, Porland, Oregon, USA, 2015.

    Our artworks are sometimes constructed from reorganizing found objects and objectifying the mythology referents of these objects. Our collective ‘perception of truth’ and how these interpretations relate to found objects… and ultimately how authorship and interpretation of meaning informs identity and place.

    Your work has quite a range! From living plants to found objects to collage and to repeat pattern installation design. But all of your work seems to have to do with people and connecting people. What role does identity play in your work?

    We believe in complex nuances of the familiar that celebrates people and places. We are focused on the importance of beauty and levity at this time. The asynchronous repeat patterns are carefully constructed and created from diligent on the ground research. We consider them to be portraits of a place -perhaps a city, a neighborhood, or even a garden.

    Our work has always been about connecting people. We consider our art to be a form of portraiture -- whether that be a map, or an immersive installation artwork, or a language score. We also recognize that everything we do is a collaboration -- not only in making the artwork as a duo, but also in the activation of its meaning via public engagement and museum archives. 

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, Event Horizon: recontextualized on 52 panels of glass, custom made a synchronous repeat pattern, archival inks printed onto acrylic substrate, commissioned by META / FACEBOOK as a permanent intervention on architecture by Frank Ghery, 2021.

    The visitor of an immersive artwork and their emotional response becomes a part of the artwork. The site also becomes an activated space. We focus on joy and delight and a seek to invoke the sense of the sublime. We get excited about the process of ‘discovery’ in two ways; as part of the research process and also in the maximal carefully considered installation design. We want all types of people to have an opportunity to identify with the artwork and have a sense of familiarity and understanding about their city, histories, and culture.’ And also give them a way to read deeper into the work if they choose. 

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, documentation image with custom refitted vintage sofa,  “Teatro del Sole / Theater of the Sun,”  asynchronous repeat pattern, archival watercolor inks printed on organic fabric, dimensions variable, commissioned by Manifesta 12, Palermo, Siciily, Italy, 2018.

    For much of your work, you are actually in collaboration with local governments as well as institutions and museums. What are some of the rewards and challenges while working with government bodies to create art works?

    It is an honor. The best part is always the connections we make with people and the idea that we leave something in a neighborhood that could bear fruit for another 100 years. We feel fortunate to be making artwork. We have been awarded almost 20 permanent works of art in public parks and public rights of way that use fruit bearing trees and shrubs as part of the materials  - in New York City, New Orleans, Madrid, Los Angeles, San Diego, and in 2022 upcoming at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and more.

    All projects have a process and a timeline. “Challenges” and “rewards” we feel are better addressed as “process.” The more people involved and the larger the scale, more agencies are involved for review. 

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit, “Monument to Sharing,” 32 orange trees and 32 line poem created collaboratively with the public, Los Angeles State Historic park, dimensions variable, a Creative Capital Foundation supported project, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2017.

    We consider sidewalks in a city and hallways in museums as equitable public spaces. They are the pathways that we travel from place A to place B and they are typically overlooked as places that have meanings. Like the unexpected occasionally epiphenal magic moment -- when the experience of the world resets itself. Seeing a rainbow, running into a friend, remembering something meaningful, noticing something new, etc. We love that place and moment most of all.

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit,  “Promised Land,”  asynchronous repeat pattern, archival watercolor inks printed on organic fabric, dimensions variable, commissioned by Tel Aviv University Art Museum for the exhibition PLANET, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2019.

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit,  “Historic Victorville Public Fruit Park,” created with the residents of historic Victorville, in partnership with R.O.O.T., San Bernardino Arts Connection, and the City of Victorville, 2018.

    What an important message it is to make magic moments at every corner! What is your advice for artists looking to make an impact beyond traditional artist paths?

    At the beginning, people were always trying to define our work as social activism, urban gardening, or a food project. We held our ground and kept presenting and describing the projects as artworks. We are artists making contemporary artwork. If you are starting out, say yes to everything and get into every group exhibition in your category; exhibitions about environment, photography, whatever. Another thing we regularly did was to take opportunities to curate projects inviting other visual artists, performance based artists, and experimental writers to participate with both existing and newly created works.  But in the end, you find your own way. There is no magic formula for making it right. We have exhibited in hundreds of group exhibitions and dozens of solo projects at all levels-- local, regional, national, and international. We are actively  learning from our research and try to continually push our  relationship to materials. We do not actively look for bigger, better, venues -- we are interested in making “good work.”  

    And this good work has a very distinct style! You have mentioned both surrealism and pop imagery as inspiration for this style. What influences are you responding to in your visual elements?

    We are always responding to the present moment - and growing as artists. Considering that we have been making work for 17 + years together - we make video art, photography, fruit parks, we do several participatory projects - some of which have become successful - including Lemonade Stand (our self portrait project) and Fallen Fruit Magazine - (our public magazine collage project) We are always thinking about new things and coming up with new ideas for artworks. It’s a journey. People have fallen in love with our immersive art installations and they have gotten more detailed and complex and better over time. 

    Pop art and Surrealism have influenced us as artists. We use media like abstraction or collage to relate ideas about the natural world in contemporary moments and in the abstract concepts related to memory and history. Since narrative is subjective, everyone's individual truth makes each person's reaction to the work "right" and we seek to create this common ground for sharing and community.

    Image credit: David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit,  “Fruits from the Garden and the Field (Purple and Yellow),”  commissioned by V&A Museum for the exhibition FOOD: Bigger than the Plate, London, England, 2019.

    Collaboration seems to be a really important part of your process. Can you describe your concept of “decentralized collaboration”?

    We believe that collaboration is an essential part of culture. In this way, we find that it is essential in contemporary art. Even visiting a museum is a collaboration. Walking in a neighborhood is a collaboration. Sharing an understanding is a collaboration. We, as a people, continually collaborate in passive and intentional ways everyday. We all can’t help it. It’s automatic and an integrated part of everyday life. This is how we as artists explore the depths and capacities for questioning and expand how authorship is created / co-created. 

    We, as a people, continually collaborate in passive and intentional ways everyday.

    A lot of our research is based on observations. Watching people in spaces; walking sidewalks, hanging out in parks, exploring libraries and museums. We listen. And then we listen more carefully to the sounds behind the words, the traffic, the animals, the machines. We listen to the spaces between the words. We watch this way also, looking for the meaning in all of the spaces we are investigating. These spaces are opportunities for unactivated collaborations.

    It goes back to the message from Leviticus -- In this case, our interpretation is to leave the harvest of the margins of meanings for the stranger or the passerby. To create beautiful artwork installations for people in the future. To protect the possibilities of learning about something that you may think you already know; to shift canonized meanings and shift understanding to open-ended possibilities found in the future - People may understand these ideas (artworks) differently than we do today over time.

    Thank you so much David Burns and Austin Young of Fallen Fruit for such an insightful interview! 

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