Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Natural History – Fallen Fruit Copy

Theano June 18, 2021

Step One: Immerse yourself in the artwork

What is this artwork?

It’s the wallpaper sitting behind the paintings and around the sculptures. The wallpaper has been designed to sit around and behind these particular artworks.

For Natural History, David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit created an immersive installation artwork that utilises photographs of Australian flora and selected artworks from the NGV permanent collection to respond to history and the environment.

You can explore the Fallen Fruit gallery space virtually:

Step Two: Understanding the artwork

What are the artists trying to achieve?

The wall coverings are presented alongside NGV Collection works portraying issues of colonialism, the natural world, and narrative depictions of religion and the supernatural, with the artists selecting and re-organising the works to form contemporary perspectives on race, class and gender. A joint statement by Fallen Fruit notes: ‘As artists, we are interested in how people, plants, and animals are represented in various natural settings, landscapes, and gardens. By drawing from the NGV Collection, the immersive artwork also becomes a story about the formation of colonial Australia itself, and how people and plants from other places have naturalised within the Indigenous landscape.’

They do this by selecting particular animals and plants for particular rooms. The wall coverings incorporate photographs of plants, fruits and flowers made by the artists during a research trip to Melbourne in early 2020. The trip included visits to Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne Gardens, the Collingwood Children’s Farm and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The dark blue room above is a collection of European paintings, behind which the artists have selected non-native plant species found in Melbourne (i.e. European plants behind European paintings). In the other rooms of the exhibition (best experienced via the virtual tour) native Australian plants and animals are placed behind paintings of the Australian landscape.

Who are Fallen Fruit?

Fallen Fruit is an art project consisting of artists David Allen Burns and Austin Young. It began by creating maps of public fruit: the fruit trees growing on or over public property.

Central to the work of Los Angeles–based collective is the desire to create beautiful and sumptuous spaces where audiences can enjoy museum collections in new, unexpected ways that simultaneously reveal a series of layered social constructs.

Using fruit – plus public spaces and public archives – as materials for interrogating the familiar, Fallen Fruit investigates power dynamics within society.

Here’s a specific example from the artists

The images on this wallpaper comprise a pattern of roses and other non-native plantsrepresenting European ideals materialized in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, alongside with fruits and flowers from the streets of inner-city Collingwood. The pattern images from photographs by the artists simultaneously represent colonizers’ social constructs regarding the ‘naturalization’ of plants as well as the adaptive powers of introduced species conducive to urban and rural environments.

Credit: https://fallenfruit.org/triennial-2020-fallen-fruit-virtual-tour/

Step Three: Draw your own conclusions

In the Masterclass you will be introducing your peers who looked at other works to Megafauna. As such, it’s important that you feel comfortable talking about Fallen Fruit’s work.

Create a document and take notes on the following prompts (150 words per prompt):

  • What interested you about Natural History that made you choose to investigate it?
  • What is depicted in the artwork Natural History (what is this artwork about?)
  • What point(s) do you think Fallen Fruit are trying to make in this artwork?