THE TREE

A site-specific project consisting of a dozen apples placed on the pavement underneath a tree in a big city.

The bypassers reactions, like looking up in a moment of puzzlement, or ignoring or nicking the apples were photographed and recorded on video and exhibitied in Central St. Martin's Window Gallery opposite the actual tree  (London, March 1997).

FAQ about The Tree

Is  ”The Tree” a piece of art work or an exhibition or how do you see it?
Well, I suppose you can call it a site-specific project which means that it has a very ephemeral character – on average it took about 15 minutes from the moment where I placed the apples on the pavement until “the exhibition” was over. The apples were either kicked away or nicked.
However, in London I recorded the event on video and showed it in “The Window Gallery” which is situated right opposite the actual tree on the other side of the street.

 

Was it directly transmitted?
No, I repeated the event several times during 8 months and edited the video recordings into a 10 min. loop.
The idea was that the viewer would realize that the video was recorded from the same spot where he or she was standing and then turn round to see the real tree.

 

So is the piece about being aware of your surroundings?
Well, I think it can be interpreted in many ways – I liked the idea that the busy urban pedestrians would be puzzled and change the direction of their thoughts and gaze for a moment. It is a quite irrational thing to do – to look up – however that is what many people did, without getting an answer to where the apples came from.

Actually I got the idea to the project after I returned from a conservation project in Scotland. I had spent a week surveying vast areas for tiny seedling trees of rowan, willow and beech which had been prevented to grow by grazing sheep and deer.
The organization  Trees for Life where going to fence the areas and wanted to get an overview of how many and what kind of trees they could expect to regenerate when sheep and deer were prohibited from grazing.
When I returned to London I couldn’t take off my “tree-specs” and kept looking for trees.
And I noticed that nobody seemed to be aware of the trees in the streets and then I got the idea to the piece.

 

Would you characterize “The Tree” as a political art of work?
Hmm, yes and no – personally I think it is difficult not to be political whether you intend to or not – even getting out of bed in the morning is a political gesture.
So yes, I am aware that it might be diagnosed as a piece of political art.
I also see traces back to Surrealism and Dadaism in the piece: the humor, the ephemeral, the non-sense i.e. the moment of not knowing, the focus on process and idea rather than finished product and the fact that the spectator is taking part in the piece.

The apple theme is also appearing in “Would you like an Apple?” in the project “Who’s that tripping over my Bridge?” – is there any connection?
No, not directly –the performance called “Would you like an Apple?” were inspired by spells and charms.
But it is not a coincidence that I used apples in “The Tree” – basically because everybody is familiar with apples and knows they come from a tree.
Although, when thinking about it, I can easily imagine some urban youngsters believe apples grow in plastic bags – and they might do in the future!

 

You have also made the piece in other cities?
No, not directly –the performance called “Would you like an Apple?” were inspired by spells and charms.
But it is not a coincidence that I used apples in “The Tree” – basically because everybody is familiar with apples and knows they come from a tree.
Although, when thinking about it, I can easily imagine some urban youngsters believe apples grow in plastic bags – and they might do in the future!
You have also made the piece in other cities?
Yes, after London I repeated the piece in New York and Berlin.
And I think that’s it for now.

© Copyright Anne Mølleskov 2020