June – Month of the Oak

The image that I had in mind for the oak in the tree calendar was of an old oak tree with a rough bark and some strong branches extending almost horizontally from the trunk. Oaks tend to grow that way, and they can get very old, too. The other requirement was that my ideal oak partner would grow somewhere in the eastern shores of Helsinki, as a counterpoint to the birch, rowan and alder, which have all been on the western shores. Although I already recorded the Hawthorn as the tree of June I would add the oak for June as well, because the month of the oak stretches from June 10 to July 7, at least in one of the versions of the calendar, and I would not be here in the beginning of July. Most oaks in Finland are planted, although there are oak forests in the southern parts. Last week I made a trip to the Arabianranta area near the Vantaa falls, and found only one oak in the park there. It was growing in the midst of shrubs and did not look like an ideal partner at all, so I let it be. Today I decided to take the metro to Brändö – Kulosaari, an island and old villa area east of the centre, to see if I could find any old oak trees there. And funny enough, I found exactly one in the Eugen Schauman Park. It is not very old and it has no branches to sit on or even hang from, but I decided this would be my partner and so be it. I tried to reach the lowest branch but did not get enough of a grip to hang from it and could not stand the stretch for long. I tried with the other arm as well, but in the end I realized the right thing to do was to lean against its rather slender trunk and relax. So I did just that.



The following day I edited the simple version, leaning against the oak, into a video work called Oak in June (8 min. 10 sec.). But I wanted to document my attempts as well, and compiled them into Oak in June – testing (3 min. 32 sec.) Both can be found in the research catalogue as Oak in June.