Is it too late to start talking with trees?

Annette Arlander
20 min Presentation + 20 min Discussion
Tone Åse
Olavshallen: Kammersalen
Is it too late to start talking with trees? Or, rather, a bit too early, considering the rapid developments in our understanding of vegetal life? In this presentation I describe my experiments with the podcast Talking with Trees, a series of attempts at addressing specific trees in Swedish, Finnish, or English. As part of the artistic research project Pondering with Pines, in the border zone of environmental, media, and performance art, the main concern is to develop ways to recognize and engage with the subjectivity of life forms such as trees, which we tend to consider as wholly “other.” How can we develop acts of thinking, reflecting, pondering or speaking with trees? How can we develop imaginative and poetic ways of encountering pine trees and engaging with them? What possible ways of communicating could be developed between trees and non-trees like humans? These experiments are repetitive, circular, and low-tech, not innovative as such. Rather than claim direct impact or provide “solutions,” they explore alternative and intimate forms of documenting and sharing, and they strive to participate in the cultural transition that is taking place. As author Amitav Ghosh, among others, has noted, the task of imaginatively restoring agency and voice to nonhumans is a task that is at once aesthetic and political and of pressing moral urgency.

Annette Arlander

Annette Arlander, DA, is an artist, researcher and a pedagogue, one of the pioneers of Finnish performance art and a trailblazer of artistic research. Former professor of performance art and theory and artistic research. At present she is visiting researcher at Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki. Her research interests include artistic research, performance-as-research and the environment, especially trees. Her artwork moves between the traditions of performance art, video art and environmental art.