Operation Pay Dirt vs. Public Fruit Jam

Artist: Mel Chin et Al

Title: Operation Pay Dirt/ Fundred Dollar Bill Project (pg 127)

Date: 2006 –

What: The artist goes around to schools, originally starting in New Orleans before branching out through the country, having children make “Fundred Dollar Bills” from premade templates. These fake bills are then organized and placed into armored cars that have been modified to run on vegetable waste oil. The bills are delivered to congress.

Why: On a post Katrina visit to New Orleans Mel Chin discovered that the soil contained 4 times as much lead as deemed safe. He also discovered that the government had known about it before Katrina and had no plan to correct it. It was said to contribute to the epidemic of lead poisoning that 30% youth in the area have suffered. He has stated his main concern is awareness.

Accomplishments: Mel Chin has raised a lot of awareness through out the country. In 2010 his “fundred dollar bill” trucks traveled nation wide and collected around 400,000 fake bills to send to congress. He has also begun to implement a neutralization process in New Orleans and is backed by the EPA in Oakland, CA.

Artist: Fallen Fruit (David Burns & Austin Young)

Title: Public Fruit Jam (pg 150)

Date: 2006 –

What: Burns and Young mapped out fruit trees within a five-block radius of their homes. They then provided the maps to the public and encouraged them to pick the fruit. LA property laws are unclear on the ownership of these trees when then exceed the property lines such as hanging over a fence. This is then is used to make jam as a social event in markets galleries and museums.

Why: Public Fruit Jam is a social commentary on the way people today socialize as well as the relationship between the wealthy and less fortunate.


-       Both rely heavily on participation from the outside community
-       Both speak on the idea of who has the upper hand in the idea that the government didn’t choose to correct the lead and the stereotypical idea of the wealthy.


-       Mel Chin works as a single artist while Fallen Fruit is a collaboration
-       Operation Pay Dirt was about political reform in the environmental care for New Orleans. Public Fruit Jam was a less forward and aggressive way to comment on the idea of those who hold power.

1 comment:

Windrose said...

Interesting juxtaposition. I'm interested in how the "Operation Playdirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project" organized its outreach. The extensive involvement from school children all over the country is what really builds the impact for this project, I'm just curious about how exactly they united all the individuals (school involvement, teachers, parents??) Also what was the response from Congress? Have actual funds been raised because of this project to clean up the dirt in New Orleans or other parts of the country? I think it's a great idea to take a fun "playful" spin on an issue that is so serious in order to incorporate the youth voice into the rally for change.