How is this playing by itself?
Great question! The work uses as MIDI player piano system which allows the keys to move and the music you hear comes from a recording. It's a song titled "Strange Fruit," popularized in the 1930s by the jazz vocalist Billie Holiday.The arrangement of the song twas done by the artist himself (Sanford Biggers). It laments and protests the lynching of African-Americans.
Is this tree real?
No, the tree is not real, although it does incorporate real wood over a steel infrastructure.
Other materials like polyuerthane foam and clay were also used in this sculpture.
What is the inspiration of this art?
That piece is about racial lynching. I am not sure if the piece is playing its sound right now, but the piano plays the song "Strange Fruit" (in an arrangement by Biggers). Popularized in the 1930s by Billie Holiday, this song 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." In these lyrics, the "strange fruit" produced on Southern trees is the dead bodies of lynched men.
The artist made the piece after the 2006 incident in Jena, Louisiana, in which nooses were dangled from a tree at a racially troubled high school.
The artist also talks about the importance of the symbolism of trees. The bodhi tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment, family trees, trees of knowledge, and trees as sites of lynching -- there are many layers of meaning here.
How often do you tune the piano?
I wish I had a piano pun at the ready!! I don't know how often the piano is tuned, in truth. The piano is operated via a midi player and plays two arrangements of "Strange Fruit" every 26 minutes. I believe the artist tuned the piano to the liking before it was installed.
So is it the piano making the music or a recording?
The music you are hearing from "Blossom"
comes from a recording arranged by the artist himself.
Tell me more.
I love this piece! "Blossom," by Sanford Biggers, is a sculptural and sound based installation that incorporates many of the themes the artist favors in his work, including black history and identity in the United States and buddhism. The piano plays Biggers' own arrangement of "Strange Fruit" every 15 minutes.
I wonder is it playing right now? The jazz standard reflects on lynching in America, as does the piano with a tree growing violently through it, the bench knocked to the ground. "Blossom" is installed in the lobby alongside our exhibition The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America.