Hanging in a pine tree or appearing with plants

Participating in the performance philosophy biennial Intervention – Intoxication in Amsterdam inspires me to write a brief note about my presentation, titled Hanging in a pine tree or appearing with plants. Most of my blog posts these days are written on my Stockholm blog, and in Swedish, related to the project ”Performing with Plants” at Stockholm University of the Arts. And actually my presentation, performance lecture or video essay in Amsterdam today was directly linked to that project as well. But perhaps because I have not participated in any performance philosophy events since the one in Helsinki related to citizenship many years ago, this occasion seems somehow relevant, inspiring and challenging at the same time. And probably partly because I had and article published in the latest issue of Performance Philosophy Journal, Resting with Pines in Nida – attempts at performing with plants, which I am quite proud of, after all. Other reasons for being excited enough to write this, are the inspiring presentations I have witnessed today, and some of them directly linked to my interests, such as Ingrid Vranken’s performance lecture Rooted Hauntology Coworking lab – being with plants/ infiltration and especially Laura Cull’s paper in the panel Thinking with Non-Human Animals & Autistic People: Intervening in Anthropocentrism and Neuronormativity.
Originally I proposed a performance lecture, and really tried to device one, based on the video Hanging in a Pine, the longer version (19 min 31 sec), which has the perfect duration to fit the 20 minute slot. But I ended up recording all the spoken parts as a voice over, and leaving the mini-projector, which I planned to use to show a distorted image of the swinging version with, as well as the main performative prop, the rather large pine branch, at home. That was probably the right decision; trying to create a performance would have been clumsy and difficult, because of my lack of experience and the setting too – not even the lights could be shifted between the three parts of the session to make the video more visible, so what with an extra cable for electricity for the projector, huh? Thus, showing a mere video essay was OK. But of course that excludes all possibility of including comments to previous contributions or other adjustments to the context. The two other presentations in the same panel were interesting in their own way, particularly the last one, discussing the use of Latour’s idea of the parliament of things as inspiration for a local theatre project involving the North Sea, although the idea of theatricality and representation where not my main concerns. I would have been more interested in discussing the possibility of and difference between performing and appearing. – The video essay form is somehow fascinating and challenging, something to explore further. I still think that the artwork, the videos, like the actual performances that produce the material for them, must be nonverbal, but the possibilities of the video essay, such as including a text that is not only academic, but contains poetic and imaginative parts, are worth exploring further in the future.

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