Fallen Fruit's United Fruit exhibit posterThe banana as we know it may soon be gone — but the fruit’s tortuous history and complicated reputation keeps inspiring art and activism. In Los Angeles, a new educational exhibition and playful performance called United Fruit will soon unpeel “the social, political and pop history of the banana – from a gold mine of global capitalism to the media manipulation of a comic and erotic symbol.”

That exhibition’s the brainchild of the artist collective Fallen Fruit, a trio of urban fruit enthusiasts who merge fruit with community, environmentalism, art and activism. In Los Angeles, the fruit of trees that hang over public property is legally free game — and Fallen Fruit’s used this rule to organize everything from nocturnal fruit forages to fruit jams.

This month, Fallen Fruit takes its inspiration from the collective’s recent trip to Colombia — where Chiquita paid off murderous paramilitary groups as part of its business practices — for its United Fruit exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).

Everyone’s invited to the United Fruit opening, which will include a participatory performance called “Are You Happy To See Me?”: “Hundreds of bananas will be brought in for guests to eat and photograph themselves playing with this often comical or suggestive fruit.” The delicious games will be played on June 16 from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. The exhibit runs June 17 to Sept. 27.

For more on the complex and scary past and future of bananas, read my review of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel — and follow fair trade company Equal Exchange’s current series of blog posts on bananas.

Photo: Courtesy Fallen Fruit

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