On View: Contemporary Art, Northeast Gallery
In Blossom, a piano inexplicably fused with a tree plays "Strange Fruit" (in an arrangement by the artist). The song, popularized in the 1930s by Billie Holiday, protests the atrocity of lynching: "Southern trees bear a strange fruit, / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, / Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze, / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees." The haunting lyrics suggest that the fused piano may be read as a surrogate for a violated human body.
Influenced by a 2006 incident in Jena, Louisiana, in which nooses were dangled from a tree at a racially troubled high school, the piece also evokes the rich cross-cultural symbolism of trees: Biggers alludes to the story of Buddha finding enlightenment under a bodhi tree. This unlikely combination demonstrates his interest in multiplicities of both inspiration and interpretation.
Steel, silk, wood, MIDI player piano system, Zoopoxy, paint, dirt, modelling clay, polyurethane foam
12 x 18 x 15 feet (365.9 x 548.8 x 457.3 cm) (show scale)
Purchase gift of Toby Devan Lewis, Charles and Amber Patton, and an anonymous donor, gift of the Contemporary Art Council, and the Mary Smith Dorward Fund
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Sanford Biggers (American, born 1970). Blossom, 2007. Steel, silk, wood, MIDI player piano system, Zoopoxy, paint, dirt, modelling clay, polyurethane foam, 12 x 18 x 15 feet (365.9 x 548.8 x 457.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Toby Devan Lewis, Charles and Amber Patton, and an anonymous donor, gift of the Contemporary Art Council, and the Mary Smith Dorward Fund, 2011.10. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, DIG_E_2014_Unfolding_Tales_rotation_07_PS4_2011.10.jpg)
installation, DIG_E_2014_Unfolding_Tales_rotation_07_PS4_2011.10.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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