An Elm Tree After All

In ten days the trees in the park had really changed, and had rather big leaves now. Already during my last visit the flowers of the tree up on the hill revealed that it is an elm, and now when the leaves have come out there was no doubt about it. Elm trees grow only planted in Finland, so it is not as familiar to me as some other deciduous trees. All the elms I’ve seen before have been solitary or planted in rows and therefore this group of five trunks from the same root deceived me to assume it was some type of willow. And the way some small branches are growing directly out of the trunk near the ground made me think of a linden tree. Anyway, an elm is an interesting acquaintance. I visited the tree on Thursday and then again on Saturday, after a rather busy week. Not only did I travel to Oslo for a meeting directly when returning from Venice, where the research project How to do things with performance? organised a two-day event at the research pavilion called Accessing Performance. Preparations for Art Fair Finland 2017 were in full swing and I had to go there and set up my contribution, a four-channel version of the video installation Solsidan, which I made while staying at Solsidan in Stockholm during the winter 2015-2016 and which I have not shown anywhere else before. The video projectors were difficult to place and my media players are made for home use and not really reliable when running nonstop for days, but somehow I managed to set it up.
Sometimes everything seems to happen at the same time, and these days have been like that. There was an editorial board meeting and a pre-examination board meeting and on Saturday there was a non-human seminar (in Finnish) organised at Reality Research Centre, where I had promised to contribute in one of the panels. And there was an opening of an exhibition of self-portraits called Me: Self-portraits Through Time in Kunsthalle Helsinki, where one of my works was shown, too. I was very happy to be included in this large group of historical and contemporary Finnish artists, although I never thought of the work they had chosen as a self-portrait. Year of the Rat Uphill – Downhill from 2009 is recording time passing and the changes taking place in the environment while I am walking down the stairs to the northern shore on Harakka Island, and back again, once a week for the duration of a year. And why not, since I am the person walking, you can of course say it is a self-portrait. In short: sitting with the elm tree and the alder for a few minutes these two mornings felt really important and invigorating in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. Not only people but the trees and all the vegetation around is buzzing with life at this time of year.