A tree has been soaked in the philosophy of Wittgenstein for decades, learning a new language to be able to speak with humans. In the online TV-channel, areyouready.tv, we follow the conversation between Wittgenstein’s philosophy, the tree and the two artists behind the project, Gitte Sætre and Frans Jacobi. Episode 1: The Resurrection was inaugurated both on areyouready.tv and on bruisemagazine.com and was served to us with the intention to capture our own engagement with our own treatment of nature via the new challenges brought on by the climate crisis. In their introduction to the episode, provided in a separate video, the artists say: “These days we’re experiencing a breakdown of our way of thinking, our language and systems are falling apart […] Being out of control in the communication with nature, fosters a big confusion and requires a new learning, a new language”.
This identification with a tree seeking to learn a new language reminds me of Shahrnush Parsipur’s book Women without Men, in which a woman decides to plant herself in the garden as a tree. What may seem odd or fantasy-like, makes perfect sense in the story, and I have to admit that if I could, I would probably also every now and then like to become a tree. Especially for the sake of pacing down, grounding instead of running, collaborating instead of competing, and as trees become part of a root network where everyone takes care of each other, through the sharing of the resources available.
The issue today isn’t whether we are all in the same boat (since we are clearly not) but the question must rather become a matter of collaboration in the building process of all the boats we need to build, if we shall have a fair chance of staying afloat in time for what is yet to come. This is at least how I understand ‘nature as infrastructure’ in a world on the edge of collapse.
Better late than never, one might say: if we are already to realize that we are all motherfuckers, engaging in processes of extraction, in love with fairy tales and fake news, we must reconsider this entire year as our first ‘last call’. I am sure that most of us have by now come to realize that humans can neither be isolated from nor survive without other animals, first of all because we are already entangled as interdependent species. The intersection between bats, minks and humans is just the most recent example. Another is the human-led mass extinction of other species and extreme loss of biodiversity, threatening our entire ecosystem to collapse. What I get from following Nature as Infrastructure is the simple laws of connectedness and entanglement that exists not only between different species but also between different humans, cultures, catastrophes as well as solutions.
I wrote that the experience of one of the other works in the program, G.R.A.C.E. make me feel very uncomfortable, rather quite frightened. I now realize that the reason for this, may be that I am still adapting to a new truth, where comfort and discomfort must have new connotations. Perhaps we have reached a point where the comfort we used to believe was a right of ours, is no longer the right thing to do. Vice versa the feeling of discomfort should be what drives us to change, but first of all we must accept the uncomfortable truth and “stay with the trouble” as Donna Haraway famously poses it.
I am truly grateful that a collective and platform like The Winter Office exists and the way they have been constructing this Manifesta program has been an overwhelming experience of food for thought.
I sincerely hope that the work of all the artists included will reach way beyond Marseille and Copenhagen through Bruisemagazine.com and create waves of empowerment to all Earthlings united by a shared belief in life and the will and courage to give something back.
Are You Ready? was a part of the Nature as Infrastructure a virtual program curated by the Copenhagen-based artist collective The Winter Office (TWO). Organised within the frame of Manifesta 13 – Les Parallèles du Sud, Marseille, 2020 at the invitation of the French/Portugese artist, Wilfrid Almendra. And through a network of generous collaborations and partnerships which is becoming a characteristic of the group’s ongoing exhibition and program formats. Nature as Infrastructure had an line-up of works, talks, screenings and book launches, and the group has. Managed to create a feeling of a biennial within this year’s Manifesta biennial. Check it out on www.bruisemagazine.com before the various links expire, and read about encounter with outer space; interspecies relationships; colonized subjecthood