Today I started a new work, a performance with Itsenäisyyden kuusi, the Spruce of Independence, in Kaivopuisto Park. I notised it for the first time a few weeks ago, which in itself is absurd, because I have been walking around in the Park since the 1970’s, but never really payed attention to it, perhaps because it stands in a strange corner of the park, near the entrance to the restaurant. I no longer remember what made me look it up on the internet, but when I saw that it grows in my neighbourhood I decided I would do something with it, as part of the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable trees. This one surely is remarkable, planted of a seed put in the ground at the time of the declaration of Finnish independence in 1917 and planted on site in the 1930s.
Wikipedia describes the spruce like this (in Finnish).
It is a controversial tree, I suppose, with the strange monument next to it, but it was celebrated in 1967 when lots of small spruces grown from its seeds were distributed around the country, and again during the centennary in 2017.
My first idea was to sit and write letters to it somewhere nearby, as I have done with the spruce on Harakka Island, not so far from there. I knew I could not get the whole spruce in one image, so I considered the possibility of making two versions, one from afar, with the spruce visible between other trees, and another version with me and its lower branches, or something. Only when I finished my Corona Diary, my daily balancing act with the maple in the yard in the house where I live, on the last of May, did I realize what I would do. Rather than write to the Spruce of Independence or hold on to it or what not, I would sinply transpose my balancing act to take place next to the spruce, not necessarily every day, but regularly during the summer or June at least, now when I am in Helsinki anyway. And that is exactly what I did today. Choosing the position of the camera and the framing of the image was not so easy, and I am not very happy with my decision, but it seemed the best solution at least today. The image will look very different when the shadow of the tree falls differently, but that remains to be seen. I chose my position in the shadow based on the circumstances today. What happens next is something else.
Hare are some images from today:
And one from last week (or the week before) when I walked by with my phone: