Promised Land

Promised Land
Credit: Asaf Brenner

Promised Land

David Burns and Austin Young (Fallen Fruit)

 

Promised Land , a work by David Burns and Austin Young (“Fallen Fruit”) is a local portrait of a different sort: all the plants shown were photographed by the artists in the preceding months throughout Israel, and the stuffed birds were photographed at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University. The rich collage before us marks the space of the Land of Israel as a source for the creation of culture – the region where, 6500 years ago, human beings began to cultivate fruit trees for food – but also indicates the danger facing species diversity in our environment. The esthetic appeal and vivid colors give the viewer a sense of being surrounded by utter paradise. Yet, a second look reveals cracks in the esthetic celebration with the appearance of a threatening element: birds of prey – creatures that once were impossible to catch, but are now dead. Most of them are endangered or extinct.

 

Human presence appears in this work by the way nature is marked: tying up the first fruits with a bright blue ribbon, or wrapping catalog labels around the birds’ legs. This work integrates a promise with a warning: the rainbow colors symbolize the promise that the earth will never again experience a flood the likes of which the biblical Noah saw; at the same time, it is humans’ task to preserve this very earth. Yet man has failed at this task, and his interference with nature has irreversible consequences. Promised Land is not just the specific country in which we are located, but the entire planet – with its fantastic abundance and the lurking danger it faces.

 

Alongside the installation, the artists created six maps of fruit trees in different Tel Aviv neighborhoods. These “treasure maps” encourage us to rediscover our surroundings: to go on foot, to speak with strangers, and to share edible fruits. Such fruit, according to Burns and Young, is the ultimate gift to us from nature: if we do not eat it, it will fall to the ground and rot. By foregrounding the fruits growing in public spaces, the artists seek to challenge the norms of belonging and ownership and stimulate more shared, communal networks. In a reality where people are not motivated to be physically active – living mostly in the virtual world behind the computer keyboard – the artists invite us to look at our surroundings with different eyes. Their works prompt us to learn how to change the way we treat the beings who comprise our environment: plants, animals, and people.

 

Maps - the fruits of Tel Aviv

City CenterNeve SharetOld North,  Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv University Campus 


​Map - The fruits of Jaffa

Jaffa 

 

David Burns and Austin Young (Fallen Fruit)

Promised Land

2020

Site-specific Installation, Custom Fabric wallpaper, Custom Fabric

Curtain, and hand-drawn maps printed on recycled paper 

Courtesy of the artists

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