Strange Fruits brings together the works Dekyndt created during the development process of the exhibitions shown at Le Consortium in Dijon and Wiels in Brussels, in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The first was inscribed in the rural wine region of Burgundy, the second in the Brussels area and more specific in the history of Wiels, located in the building of former brewery Wielmans-Ceuppens.
The title Strange Fruits refers to Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, a song in turn based on Abel Meeropol’s 1937 poem Bitter Fruit. The song tells about the lynching of black Americans in the United States, after the abolition of slavery.
Often, the lynchers themselves didn’t think they commited a crime. In 1939, the year Billie Holiday interpreted this song for the first time, three lynchings had been commited: a contemporary poll reveals that six out of ten whites were in favour of this practice. The song was interpreted by, among others, Nina Simone, Carmen Mc Rae, Josh White, Diana Ross, Robert Wyatt, Jeff Buckley, Marcus Miller, Cassandra Wilson, Sting, Mary Coughlan, Ella Fitzgerald, Tori Amos, Pete Seeger, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eartha Kitt, Tricky, Lester Bowie, UB 40, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kanye West and Annie Lennox.
The works brought together in Strange Fruits reveal, amongst other things, the human and emotional factor that looms large in Dekyndt’s work, albeit always in the background. They also highlight the appearance – sometimes noble, sometimes repugnant, sometimes sacred, sometimes profane – you can find in those works that are made with materials such as blood, earth, silver, wine, wool, velvet, burnt flowers, hair. The different interpretations of Strange Fruit will be compiled and disseminated close to the floor, on the three storeys of the gallery building.
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves
Blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
for the rain to gather
for the wind to suck
for the sun to rot
for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop