Spring in the Air?

A weekend trip to Stockholm means that I can visit my two tree partners twice, once on Saturday afternoon and another time on Sunday morning. On Saturday the sun was shining and it felt like Spring, despite the calendar showing February. I did not even wear my black trousers, it seemed so dry …




On Sunday it was even warmer, without the sun, and now everything was more muddy, when the ice was melting, but that does not show in the images, though…




On Sunday afternoon I went to Skeppsholmen to see the newly opened Marina Abramovic retrospective at moderna museet. I did not have much time and many of the classic pieces would be interesting to return to, probably I will. The show is like a course in the history of performance art, although many of the later pieces are installed in some manner, too. Some small works I did not know from before caught my attention, because they involved trees. One of them was a sound work, a photograph with headphones from her early years as an art student in Belgrad, The Tree 1972/2017,  sound environment 10:00 min, loop.


The idea of recording the environment from the point of view of a tree is beautiful, although what I could hear in terms of sound was mainly birds chirping and the traffic. But I could imagine developing something based on that work… And then another more recent one, which was more in her style (and in my style, I would like to add, if it would not sound so immodest) Sleeping Under the Banyan Tree, 2010, Video (bw, silent). 56:43 min.


Working in black and white and without sound is of course not at all my style, and making allusions to the Buddha being illuminated while meditating under a banyan tree is not that either. But Marina sleeping there, well, why not? It is more the idea of using video like a (slowly) moving still image and to tune into the slow and site-bound existence of a tree. Especially in this context where most of the works are dramatic and violent, this seemed like a soft aside, and I prefer to see it as romantic rather than pretentious…

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Annette Arlander


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