Fallen Fruit has its first solo show opening this month at LACE, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. United Fruit premieres a new body of work inspired by an exploration of the banana during the trio’s recent residency in Columbia, South America.   The work unpeels the social, political, and pop history of the banana from a goldmine of global capitalism to the popular media manipulation comic and erotic symbol of the banana. The opening is on June 16 at 7pm – it’s a special participatory performance called Are You Happy To See Me? Hundreds of bananas will be offered to guests to eat, AND we invite you to photograph yourself playing with this often comical or suggestive fruit.  The show runs from June 16 to September 27.

Fallen Fruit, Banana Workers (2009)
Drawn from Fallen Fruit’s recent trip to Columbia, David Burns, Matias Viegener
and Austin Young examine the social, political and pop history of the banana.

Exhibition runs 17 June – 27 September 2009

Opening reception 16 June 16 2009, 8pm – 10pm
featuring the participatory performance Are You Happy To See Me?

LACE is proud to present United Fruit, the first solo show by the artists collective Fallen Fruit (David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young), opening Tuesday June 16, 2009 and running through September 27, 2009. This exhibition premieres a new body of work generated during Fallen Fruit’s recent residency in Colombia, South America which features a series of photographs and video installations exploring the social, political and pop history of the banana.

The opening reception, on Tuesday June 16 from 8pm – 10pm, features Are You Happyto See Me?, a participatory performance involving hundreds of bananas available for eating. Attendees will be encouraged to photograph themselves playing with this often comical or suggestive fruit.

As the most popular fruit in the world, the banana is ubiquitous in daily life — both as a food staple in grocery stores large and small as well as the supremely seductive fruit used in modern advertising and branding. At the same time the banana’s history, politics and origins have remained virtually invisible due to the remoteness of where they are grown and of the people who grow them.

Fallen Fruit’s installation at LACE engages its subject in a range of bold and oblique strategies, signaling perhaps that no single history of the banana is possible. The title for the exhibition, United Fruit comes from the United Fruit Company which exists today in a much reduced form as Chiquita Bananas. More powerful than the Latin American countries it colonized, the corporation was marked by its ruthlessness and corruption, and its exploitation of workers, a turbulent history of protests and events that lead to the infamous Banana Massacre of 1928 near the town of Ciénega, Colombia, which Fallen Fruit visited to create this work. Burns, Viegener and Young chose to retain the title United Fruit for its hopeful and utopian echo, a contrast to its actual history.

The banana was first brought to Colombia over a hundred years ago by the United Fruit Company, which had a stranglehold on the global banana market, dominating all of North America and parts of Europe. They helped Latin American countries build railroads which were then utilized primarily for banana shipments, building a vast system of plantations which held workers in perpetual isolation. The economic model of the United Fruit Company became a template for a new kind of global monopoly capitalism. In the 1970s the company finally collapsed from a combination of political pressure, its own corruption, and changing economics.

The banana is a cultural symbol that has a powerful history of marketing and manipulation. In addition to its examination of the social and political history of the banana, United Fruit also examines the playful place of the banana in pop culture as the central prop in suggestive jokes and naughty humor. As much as there is a prohibition against stating the obvious, the force of the banana as a phallic symbol cannot be ignored.

Fallen Fruit, United Fruit (2009)