The first week of my one-month residency in Eckerö Post and Customs House on Åland Islands has been dominated by the Constellate event that replaces the PSi (Performance Studies international) conference this year, or rather the three day online symposium or workshop or gathering called Perform-Respond-Extend, organised by the Artistic Research Working Group. Exhausting and inspiring, and actually hard work, but, I am also very happy, because I managed to make two real videos as part of the assignments of the event. I made both of them together with the same ash tree near ”postbryggan”, the old pier.
The first video was made as a response to Danai Theodoridou’s work Languages of the Unheard, and is called On Vegetal Democracy. There I recycle parts of an old text published in Ruukku journal already in 2015, but otherwise the approach is new to me. The second video is using a familiar technique, writing a letter to the same ash tree, and was made as an extension of Göze Saner’s response to the presentation by Caitlin Main, dealing with trauma. That video is called The Ash Tree in Eckerö, and the text is written and spoken in Swedish, with English subtitles. Although both works were made as exercises or comments and as part of collaborative work, I am happy with them as independent works in their own right, especially after making an adjustment to the subtitles of the latter. And the brief mention of the material they are responding to does not prevent them from being seen independently. They are both available to watch online here. Because the two videos with the ash tree are ready to watch now, they feel much more like real accomplishments than my ongoing work. Time will show if they will feel relevant or not later on.
My main task on Eckerö, so far, are the two time lapse videos I am creating by posing daily with a maple tree in the yard and with an apple tree in front of the building. But those exercises will produce some results only at the end of my stay. These ongoing daily meetings are documented as still images, here. In any case I am enjoying my stay at the newly renovated residency and cherishing the spacious setting and the historical environment.
Returning to Kilpisjärvi for two weeks in June 2021, for an Ars Bioarctica residency, I did of course remember my first visit at the biological station in Kilpisjärvi in 2014, which was divided into two parts, one week in April and the other week in June. But I did not realize I would be here in the very same week. I noticed it because I had gathered material from that first visit as an appendix for an article called “Data, Material, Remains” on a page on the Research Catalogue, called Ars bioarctica residency 2014. There I found out the exact dates when I performed some of the works with Malla, the mountain at the western end of the lake. I also found links to the posts I wrote about my visit on this very same blog: Malla – Mountain in the North, describing the first visit in April, and Meeting Malla Again as well as Mountain Brooks Once More from my second visit in June.
Now I am here for other purposes, performing with the dawny birches or mountain birches in the area, as part of the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees (see post on the project blog, here). I could not resist the temptation to revisit the site where I performed “Looking at Malla” on 5 june 2014 as well as “Day and Night with Malla” on 7-8 June 2014 and try to recreate the images, in order to see if something had visibly changed – besides my camera. Not that much, actually. Yes, there is less snow on the slopes of Malla, and perhaps slightly less ice on the lake, as could be expected due to global warming, but surprisingly much remains the same. Wearing a black pullover rather than the dark blue scarf that I originally used makes quite a difference, though. Recreating “Looking at Malla”, or rather one of the sessions of the day-long time-lapse video, was not as easy as I thought. Here is the first image of the original work:
I made several attempts before finding approximately the right spot in front of the camera in order to be visible, and cover only part of the view.
Recreating the first image of the time-lapse video “Day and Night with Malla” was easier.
The rock was there, although I could not place the tripod as far back as I did before, perhaps because there was no ice now, or perhaps there was some sort of wooden construction before, or then I had a different objective in my camera, a different camera, too, I suppose. The one I use now I got that same year, but probably did not have with me at the residency yet.
The session today was actually closer to the one-off session “Moment with Malla” recorded on 7 June 2014. There you can really see the importance of the scarf in repeating the form of the mountain and the rock:
The most interesting thing, the real reason why I thought the revisit was worthwhile, was the birch growing next to the rock, and barely visible in the original images. Turning the camera only slightly to the right brought the birches into full view, and I thought standing next to the birch and holding on to its trunk would make a perfect pair to the image of sitting on the rock.
I did not even bother to make a test, because I thought I could easily picture my position next to the small tree. I did not realize how big I am, and that my hand would be covered by the rest of my body, so the image is not at all what I imagined.
Well, of course not, I would like to add, but it seems like I never learn…
PS. I did a new attempt, later, which is documented here.
A week in Örö after a long break – I was here last time at the end of February – is the perfect way to celebrate May and mothers’ day and to get some work done with the pines. When arriving I suddenly remembered the Pasque flowers (Anemone pulsatilla) whose only known habitat in Finland is supposed to be Örö. At least that is what a sign next to some fenced spots claimed. And yes, they were in full bloom, although bending in the chilly wind. There is some controversy whether they are extinct or not in Finland and which species of pulsatilla or anemones, “kylmänkukat”, actually have grown or grow here now.
I heard from a local man interested in photography about another type, the small pasque flower (pulsatilla pratensis) which is even rarer, and grows on the island, too, but has no official signs, at least not yet. They looked really delicate and exotic, I have to admit. There were three spots where the plants were marked with a circle of rocks, and in one spot also protected by a sign “valuable vegetation” on a fence, which prevented one to get anywhere near.
The Tree Calendar.
Video works by Annette Arlander in the Telegraph on Harakka Island 19–30 May 2021.
Note the time (due to the timetable of the ferry boat): weekdays 2 pm to 6 pm, sat & sun noon to 6 pm.
Welcome to the opening and a “garden party” on Tuesday 18 May at 6 pm.
Annette Arlanderin videoteoksia Harakan lennättimessä 19–30.5.2021. Huom. aika (yhteysveneen aikataulujen vuoksi): arkisin klo 14–18, la & su 12-18.
Tervetuloa avajaisiin ja ”puutarhajuhliin” tiistaina 18.5. klo 18.
Videoarbeten av Annette Arlander i Telegrafen på Stora Räntan 19–30.5. 2021.
Notera tiden (på grund av båttidtabellen): vardagar klo 14–18, lö & sö 12-18.
Välkommen på vernissage och ”trädgårdsfest” tisdagen den 18.5. klo 18.
See also / katso myös / se även:
The Helsinki Tree Calendar (2018) 17 min 42 sec
and / ja / och: https://annettearlander.com/current-projects/the-tree-calendar/
The Tree Calendar is based on the following version of the Celtic Lunar Tree Calendar
And the working process was documented online here
At the end of my first week in Hailuoto, in a residency called daycare center, the sun finally decided to shine as beautifully as on the day when I arrived here last week. Most of the time there has been snowfall or rain, with more and more snow preventing the old snow from melting and the winter lingering on. Now the brilliant sunshine sparkled in the frost on the puddles on the muddy roads, at least hinting at a promise of spring. And today I finally visited my first Tarri pine, a special type of local pine with a thick trunk and a spread out crown. One of the most famous ones, the Askelin pine, probably named after the farm it is growing on, is known for enduring several wars, and they say it was damaged during the war 1742-43 and has also been hit by artillery. It is actually protected now, with reference to the nature protection law (luonnonsuojelulain nojalla), a sign next to it declares:
‘Rauhoitettu’ is a funny word, it means protected in this case, but it could also mean pacified, so both “made peaceful” or “to be left in peace”. My landlady explained how to find it, and when I walked on the road I saw several pines wondering whether they might be the right one. When I reached the old pine with the sign next to it, it was obvious that the other candidates where nothing near as big and old.
As part of my project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees, (see separate blog here) I am of course interested in encountering local celebrities. This time, however, it would be hypocrisy to speak of an encounter – I behaved like a really impolite tourist, tramping around the tree without even greeting it first, taking my pictures and then leaving without the slightest thank you. I thought I would have learned to behave myself with trees by now, but obviously not. No wonder if they think they are strange people, these humans…
The two first months of the year I have spent a moment daily with the pines on Skifferholmen or Liuskasaari, an island connected to Uunisaari with a jetty or breakwater, and thus accessible during the winter months. When I began I did not imagine there would be ice so I could actually have walked to Harakka Island. Well, today I would not like to walk across on the ice any longer, because there is so much water on the ice, but some people still do. Today is the last day of February, so I will finish this practice. And I have not visited the pines daily, strictly speaking, because I have spent one week in Örö in the beginning of January and another week now at the end of February. (See the blog posts “Pines on Örö Again” and “New Pines on Örö”) There I have another pine tree, the pine next door, which I visit and hold on to for a moment every day, while there. The first tree on Skifferholmen I was holding on to as well, as described in “The Pine on Skifferholmen” See the first image from January above, and the last image of January, below.
I soon discovered, however, that I missed the ‘becoming tree’ balancing exercise and switched to that with the second pine, in February. See the blog post “Another Pine on Skifferholmen” The image with the second pine from the 1 February below shows me posing next to the pine in a familiar manner,
And also in the last image of February, where the sun creates a fantastic colour display:
These visits are all part of my ongoing project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees, which has a project blog of its own, and an archive on the Research Catalogue, called “Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees” as well. The visits to the pines on Skifferholmen are all documented with still-images on one page in that archive, called, unsurprisingly “The Pines on Skifferholmen” You are very welcome to follow or look at any or all of them…
Spending a week on Örö to begin my 65th year has been a pleasure, and to see the woods and the shores covered in snow. Like most of us I have great expectations for the new year and hope it would bring some exciting changes and developments. The idea that the new year is like an empty sheet is of course an illusion, most of what will happen is already planned, and the future is often a continuation of the past. It is not unwritten at all, but rather tightly scripted. Still, I always hope for some miraculous strokes of luck or the like…
The year 2020 has been a crazy year for many of us, for me as well, and has involved all kinds of transformations and restrictions. The picture above is a prohibition sign painted on a tree trunk, marking the border of a nature reserve. It reminds me of not being able to visit my apartment in Stockholm since January, and of not being accepted to any of the two professorships that I applied for, but at the same time also of being able to spend time not only on Harakka Island but in three great residencies, in Johannesburg in South Africa, in Mustarinda in Hyrynsalmi and on Örö in Kimito archipelago. And most importantly, I have begun a new project, Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees. At the end of the year I usually summarise what I have done, and therefore I add here a list of almost everything I have accomplished this year, both small and bigger things:
Residency in Örö in November, Öres
Mustarinda residency during September see here
ARA (Arts Research Africa) residency in Johannesburg 10.2.- 23.3.(orig. 10.4.) 2020
Performing with Plants – Att uppträda/samarbeta med växter. More here and the living archive here
“Remembering the Year of the Tiger – Image, Memory, Site”, in Marja Silde, Outi Lahtinen & Tua Helve (eds.), Näyttämö & Tutkimus 8: Muisti, Arkisto ja Esitys [Stage & Research 8: Memory, Archive and Performance] 2020, 292-318. See here
“Miten tehdä asioita tutkimuspäivillä – Katsaus ‘Miten tehdä asioita esityksellä?’ -tutkimushankkeeseen” [How to Do Things with Research Days – Review of the research project How to do things with performance] by Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha, Pilvi Porkola, in Marja Silde, Outi Lahtinen & Tua Helve (eds.), Näyttämö & Tutkimus 8: Muisti, Arkisto ja Esitys [Stage & Research 8: Memory, Archive and Performance] 2020, 428-432. See here
“Dearest Pine”, in Jack Faber and Anna Shraer (eds.) Eco Noir: A Companion for Precarious Times. Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki Publishing 2020, 105-112. See here
“The Shadow of a Pine Tree. Authorship, Agency and Performing Beyond the Human”, in Ewa Bal & Mateusz Chaberski (eds.) Situated Knowing. Epistemic Perspectives on Performance London & New York: Routledge 2020, 157-170. See here
“HTDTWP presents: The Transformative Potential of Performance” by Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola, in Leena Rouhiainen (ed.) Proceedings of CARPA 6 Artistic Research Performs and Transforms: Bridging Practices, Contexts, Traditions & Futures Nivel 13 (2019) here
“Revisiting the Rock – Self-diffraction as a Strategy”, Global Performance Studies 3.2. (2020) here.
“Performing with Plants in the Ob-scene Anthropocene” in Nordic Theatre Studies< vol 32 2020, 121-142 https://tidsskrift.dk/nts/issue/view/8763
“Behind the Back of Linnaeus – Bakom ryggen på Linné.” Ruukku – Studies in Artistic Research, Issue #14 Ecologies of practice. Here.
ARA-Podcast – Performance as research: a discussion with Annette Arlander https://www.iono.fm/e/822054
“Revisiting the Rusty Ring – Ecofeminism Today?” PARtake Journal here
“The City Skyline Revisited – From networks to trans-corporeality”, Research in Art Education 1/2020, pp 37-55 here
Viisi vuodenaikaa – Harakan taiteilijayhteisön 30-vuotisjuhlajulkaisu (Harakka artist community 30 year celebration publication) small pdf:19 Harakan_julkaisupienversio
Performanssifilosofiaa – esitysten, esiintymisten ja performanssien filosofiasta performanssiajatteluun (eds.) Tero Nauha, Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen and Pilvi Porkola. Nivel 12. Teatterikorkeakoulu 2019.
online version https://nivel.teak.fi/performanssifilosofiaa/
downloadable pdf version https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/311478
Exhibitions, events and performances
Dear Firethorn Rhus (with text) shown at Muu Gaala in Helsinki 19-22.11.2020.
“With a Pine” as part of Be-coming Tree, a collective online performance 31 October 2020, see here
”With a Rowan”, as part of ABLE happening by Island Rehearsals on Harakka Island 20.8.2020 from 6 pm see here
Prforming with a pine in a collective performance Be-coming Tree via zoom on 1 August 11 am to 12 pm (UK time), see here
Mantereelta – Från Fastlandet – From the Mainland. Exhibition with video works in the Telegraph on Harakka Island 14-26 July 2020
Performance with an apple tree as part of SUSUKÄKE (Sumatrantien Suomalaisugrilainen käsitekesä) Fri 17. July 7 pm. See documentation here
Performing with my Juniper friend on Harakka Island as part of ISLAND REHEARSALS on Friday 5 June at 4 pm.
Visiting Nirox Arts 16-20 March https://www.niroxarts.com/
Day with a Juniper as part of the Video Weeks in gallery Sinne 21-26.2020. See here
Papers and presentations
Conversation about peer review in artistic research with Mika Elo, Maarit Mäkelä, Otso Huopaniemi and others at Kuva Research Days 9 December 2020.
Presentation of the outcomes of the project Performing with Plants at the autumn day of Society for Theatre Research 4.12.2020
Conversation with Antti Salminen to celebrate the publishing of the Finnish translation of Emanuele Coccia’s The Life of Plants by Tutkijaliitto, 29 October 2020 at 6 pm at Kääntöpöytä, see here
“Precarious Playground”, introductory walk and screening of “Returning to the Stairs” at NSU (Nordic Summer University) meeting 26-27.7.2020 see program
“Meetings with trees and the metaphysics of mixture”, at the event organised by Performance-as-Research Working Group / International Federation for Theatre Research CONTINUITIES in PRACTICE – a virtual exchange in order to continue the conversation Tuesday 14th July, 4pm-6pm (BST).
“Chronicles of Confinement: Europa”, conversation with performance artists 10 July 1 PM New York time, 8 pm Eastern European time, organised by Canongeproductions. See https://www.facebook.com/events/947715079006591/
“Principles of Artistic Research in Performance Doctorates”, in Visioning the Future: Artistic Doctorates in Ireland. Online Seminar Series 2020, 9 July 11 am to 12 pm. http://artisticdoctorateireland.com/events/. See details here
“Writing to Trees with Trees as Performance for Camera”, presentation at the PSI Artistic Research Working Group’s virtual summer meeting 7 July 2 pm UCT/GMT.
“Exposition and/ as Method”, lecture via zoom at SKH 22 June 2020 at 2 pm Stockholm time. https://www.uniarts.se/english/news/events/open-lectures
Presentation with HTDTWP at Tutke Spring Days 28-29 April, see here
Workshop with HTDTWP for doctoral candidates at University of the Arts Helsinki (online) 14-15 April 2020
ARA-seminar (online) 9 April 4-6 pm
ARA (Arts Research Africa) seminar 12 March 2020 1 pm to 4 pm Wits Theatre, Johannesburg.
Presentation via Skype at “Asking for Advice: Artistic Research in YouTube, Home videos and Conversation” 27.2. at Centre for Artistic Research, University of the Arts Helsinki, see here.
Seminar with artistic doctoral candidates organised by DIKU in Oslo 5-7.2.2020.
”Year of the Pig with a Tatarian Maple” presentation at the Research Week of Stockholm University of the Arts 24.1.2020. See programme here
The adventure begins with a bus from Helsinki to Salo and then Dalsbruk or Taalintehdas. I am going to spend the month of November in residency on Örö, or Öres. The day is grey, dark and gloomy as befits the first day of November. There will be heavy wind tonight; I hope we will get to Örö, the Ear Island, before nightfall. It is windy already, but at night it is even more scary. Luckily I don’t think there is big open water to cross before Örö, but I do not know for sure, I have never been anywhere near. My neighbor for the coming month is a Spanish guy who is on the same bus. It is good to know that I am not completely alone in the house or on the island. There are various caretakers and entrepeneurs living there, and the whole island is only approximately 2 km. I already see myself walking back snd forth on the paths several times a day.
The change of bus in Salo was easy, and in Dalsbruk we easily found the square and the shop where the taxi was to pick us up. He drove us to Kasnäs, down to the harbour, and reassured us that so far not a single case of covid has been discovered in the whole of Kimito. The boat ride was not as bumpy as I expected, the taxi boat was quite big and sturdy, and we arrived on Örö well before nightfall.
By the time we had walked with our carriages across the island and past the residency house to begin with, it was already dark. On the way I saw several interesting looking trees and there are some handsom pine trees right next to the house – something to look at tomorrow…
During my residency in Mustarinda, in September 2020, I have met many trees and performed with some of them in various ways. Only at the end of my stay did I try to write a letter to a spruce, a practice I have experimented with elsewhere. I wrote a small letter to a spruce, in Finnish, and made a video with the text as a voice-over – both the longer version without text Dear Spruce (20 min 15 sec) and the brief version with the spoken text added, Rakas Kuusi (5 min 47 sec) are available on the Research Catalogue, here. (And the text, in Finnish, I added to a blog post, here.) Inspired by this experience I decided, on the last day of my stay in Mustarinda, to go and visit a dead spruce lying on the ground next to the path that I remembered seeing several times while walking there, and decided to try to address the spruce cadaver in English. The full-length video Dear Deceased (20 min 15 sec) and a shorter version with the text added as a spoken voice-over Dear Deceased (with text) (6 min 26 sec) are both available on the Research Catalogue, here. And the text itself, uncensored, can be read here below.
dear deceased or departed, or whatever is the proper term for a respected and beloved dead being – because there is no doubt that you are dead, dead as a spruce, that is. Your body, broken and now separated from the roots, lies on the ground dry and dead like a skeleton, except that you are steaming with life of all forms – insects, fungi, larvae, lichen, microbes, and all the things that I cannot see. And who knows what mice or other furry creatures have nests further up in your former crown? You are clearly serving your community also while dead. I am not sure how you decide whether a tree is dead or not, because some trees are able to grow new roots from their trunk, or at least new branches to form new trunks growing from a trunk fallen on the ground. Perhaps that is not possible for spruces, though. I have never seen one on any of the spruce cadavers, and there are plenty of them in this forest. On the other hand, your roots seem intact, everything below ground, although invisible to me, could be alive, and simply waiting for the right moment to throw some green needles up in the air. Well, deciduous trees are doing that, creating a whole selection of new stems and young trees from the cropped stump, but again probably not the spruces, I’m afraid. And it looks like your wood has been quite thoroughly eaten by insects, perhaps before you even fell to the ground – that could have been one of the reasons that you fell in the first place. Usually the spruces around here seem to fall with their roots open, like losing their grip of the ground in a storm. But you are really broken midway, at the waist, well, at knee height, or wrists would probably be closer, if we use human measurements. – I was attracted to you at first by the huge mushrooms that grow like small parasols from your stump, and then by the intricate forms of your almost bare branches that spread out from the trunk on the ground. Sitting on a corpse, on a cadaver, is morbid of course; and thinking of you as a rotting heap of life, all kinds of creatures busily trying to decompose you to minerals and nutrients, like a giant compost, does not make sitting here more pleasant. In actual fact your trunk seems rather steady and comfortable to sit on, not that different from a wooden bench, despite your rounded form and the slightly irregular, itchy bark. There is a small ant nest (small compared to the giant ones all around here) right at my feet – hopefully they are not disturbed by me, planning a defence attack. The sun is still warm, and it is very quiet, no wind. I wonder how man winters you have already been lying here, not that many, I suppose, but that is hard to know. There is no moss growing on top of you, but that might be simply because your branches keep you raised from the ground. And how many years will it take for you to decompose completely and turn into soil? In some places here you can still see the contours of a tree trunk in the moss, although most of the wood is gone and the moss cover is continuous. You are fertilizing the soil, I guess, whereas a human body decomposing on the ground would excrete poisonous substances, at least that is what I have heard. There is something fascinating in wood being such a living material, although it is clearly part of a dead tree, or a formerly living tree. I imagined I would sit here and think about death and dying, and the value of being able to witness the processes of decay instead of being protected from all such “unpleasant details” by an overly hygienic and artificially maintained almost sterile environment. But instead I am thinking of wood and what a marvellous material it is. – I apologize for disturbing your well-earned rest here in the forest with such human-centred and utilitarian thoughts. And, on the other hand I have to thank you for your generosity, because I like to think that you gave me those thoughts here, in some manner. Thus, many thanks for this moment on your beautiful trunk, and all the best for the coming winter!