Helsinki Trees

To end or not to end?

With the Reclining Pine

My meetings with trees continue on instagram, here, but most of my work these days takes place within the new project Pondering with Pines. Thus, I ask myself should I end the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees or not, and how. If I end actively working with the project, should I still continue with some parts of it like the “video of the week”or the quotes? Reporting back to the Finnish Cultural Foundation for my use of the grant I received in 2021 for the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees prompted me to write a short summary of what I had done, the main points of which I translate here.

The project was a further development of the project Performing with Plants funded by the committee for artistic research at Vetenskapsrådet or the Swedish Research Council in 2018-2019, where I already focused on trees. The day spent with the ancient, 9950 year old (!) spruce tree Old Tjikko on Fulufjället mountain in Dalarna in Sweden in May 2019 served as an impulse for this new project. The video Day with Old Tjikko was the only older work shown in the exhibition Meetings with Spruces and Birches in Gallery Forum Box in February 2022, where some of the works made during the project were displayed. In general I structured the project with the help of the residencies involved.

The project was originally planned as a one year sequel bit soon turned into a two-year project and in some sense it still continues, although I decided to restrict gathering new material to the end of 2021. The first year of the project (2020) I was applying for two professorships (which I did not get) and therefore used the SKR grant only the following year (2021). The year 2020 began with an ARA (Arts Research Africa) residency in Johannesburg, which was interrupted due to the covid pandemic. My work there was later documented in the publication Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees in Johannesburg with Environs. That year I continued my work in Finland, including the Mustarinda residency in September and the Öres residency in November.

The second year, the grant year (2021) included some work in residencies as well, in Hailuoto in April, in Kilpisjärvi in June, in Eckerö in July and in Örö again in the fall. This project blog is actually structured according the residencies, where I could meet a variety of different local trees. Additionally the project has its own instagram account Meetings with Trees, where I have recorded short notes on video clips of individual trees. The main material of my performances with trees as well as most of the videos I have made are publicly displayed in the project archive on the Research Catalogue platform, which I am am continuously completing with details of works shown etc. In 2022 a book called Performing and Thinking with Trees, where I collect some of my experiences from both projects will be published by the Academy of Fine Arts at University of the Arts Helsinki.

Although I have decided to end the project at the end of 2021, that is, I have not gathered any new video material after that, the project continues in the form of exhibitions, publications, workshops and presentations. I especially hope to be able to present some of the works created with the pine trees in Örö in a separate exhibition. Moreover, I have started a new project Pondering with Pines, where I use and develop further some of the experiences from meetings with trees.

By Annette Arlander

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