Sacred Conversations, 2023, David Allen Burns and Austin Young / Fallen Fruit

Sacred Conversations happen everyday. Between a mother and child, a grown man and his father, a friend consoling another friend, a teacher and a student, and more. These small conversations shape our lives, inform how we love, expand our feelings, galvanize the world around us. It is these small moments of intimacy and trust that locks an experience into an understanding for a lifetime. They shape our character. They embolden our moral ethics. They enhance our ability for compassion towards others. It is said that the last one of these kinds of conversations you experienced is, in fact, the last sacred conversation you needed to have. In this way, it is a kind of blessing.

Created for Accademia Carrara, Sacred Conversations is an immersive artwork installation for the stairwell that connects the galleries of the historic museum. The artwork is sourced from hundreds of original photographs taken by the artists that include details from paintings, drawing, and etchings from the permanent collection. Along with documentation from the streets, parks, and piazzas of the city of Bergamo that include a variety of local fruits, flowers, birds, religious icons, and more. The title of the artwork ‘Sacred Conversations’ invokes a message about how the past relates to the present and often informs the future. And also, how sometimes in our lives, we travel from a place of darkness into light.

The artists explain that “‘The artwork is about the ritual of “place.” A type of consciousness celebrating everything everyday. The walking. The hellos. The arrivadecis. The thank yous and the welcomes. Bergamo is a continual fountain of greetings all throughout the day. In the piazzas, palazzos, the parks, the walking streets, the monuments, the cafes, the cathedrals, and on and on…”.

The collection at Accademia Carrara is often spiritual, and as artists, we became holistically inspired by the work of Lorenzo Lotto as well as the compassionate perspective of the entire collection. We spent many days exploring Carrara’s galleries and archives and photographed details. We looked for everyday objects in the collection – fruits, flowers, small animals, people’s hands, insects, pollinators, and more. These common elements of everyday life seem to form a bridge from the past into the present that connects all of us in our own unique pathway along the sacred journey of our lives. 

To create this artwork, we immersed ourselves in the city of Bergamo. We walked all of the streets and alleys of the old city on the hill called “Citta Alta.” We explored cathedrals, monasteries, castles, parks, cafes, and libraries. We met with the city’s historians, and we toured the streets and historic buildings with expert guides. We photographed things that stand out in public spaces. We documented elements from the historic library, the cathedrals, the opera house, the botanical gardens, and details throughout Bergamo.   

“This site specific artwork from our exploration of Bergamo considers the architecture of the building as the frame. The artwork itself becomes an experience for the visitor – a journey from darkness to light or from night into day. The visitor is the subject or protagonist. This is a type of metaphor for an everyday journey – and also a spiritual journey.”