TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta
Be-coming-Tree entangled international live artists with barefoot technology to create a togetherness with global others and the earth, during the restrictive months of pandemic. Art workers from six continents simultaneously engaged for one hour with a local tree or woodland, witnessed by a live global audience via a hive of Zoom windows in gallery view, replicating a horizontal mycorrhizal growth, and challenging individualistic concepts often embedded in art performance. Audiences at four seasonal events viewed diverse ecosystems and myriad arts expressions of an intergenerational, global initiative, their ecological agency catalysed by tree-planting embedded in ticket purchases. The initiative was initiated by a live-stremead ecofeminist performance by Jatun Risba, one of the BcT facilitators, in which the artist was lying naked in complete stillness for one hour on an uprooted tree in the local woods.
With minimal curation from its three female/non-binary facilitators, Be-coming Tree (BcT) promoted inclusivity and self-empowerment of diverse art workers via basic mobile phone technology, opening access, supporting media literacy, and redistributing power within Live Art while disrupting contemporary scientific and technological fetishism. The BcT model challenges neo-liberal modus operandi based on competition and survival of the fittest where people are treated as entrepreneurial subjects.
The embedded concept of ‘becoming’ traverses the queering of boundaries, the permeability of beings in relation to local ecologies and global networks, so that all space is liminal and transitional, and all edges are blurred. Queering notions of nature as a separate entity, and of language as divider, BcT disrupts and transcends ideas of monoculture, anthropocentrism and false universalism, juxtaposed with a central nonbinary perspective of human/nature.
BcT researched ways to operate in a transitional, emergent way that supports the ecosystem while situating trees and plant life on an equal footing with the artists as creative collaborators, innovation catalysts and agents of beauty. It experimented with placing non-human species and global welfare centre stage while challenging the often vague, slippery notion of ‘nature.’
BcT contests the construct of an immovable link between progress/evolution and hierarchical, linear growth, promoting alternative experiential horizontal growth, grassroots power, transformative economies, layers of connectedness, multidirectional webs, and interconnected and interdependent life rhythms. The artworks interrogate decolonization and restoration of the world’s inner (energetic), middle (somatic) and outer (environmental) landscapes/territories through reclaiming the Human Rights to ecosocial welfare, inclusion and pleasure/wellbeing.
We plan to upscale BcT to become a live international event with ambassadors in different global locations organising simultaneous collective art interventions in their local woodlands or ecologies, attended by live audiences (and live streamed) . This decentralised initiative will highlight non-hierarchical empowered ways of engaging, organising and connecting, while offering live artists across the globe ways to share work and engage in targeted ecoaction.
The presentation, offered by BcT facilitators, includes clips of event recordings, photo documentation and artist testimonies, and shares insights into how the facilitators’ navigated through the various organisational, artistic and technological challenges of the project’s unfolding, and the trajectories and learnings gathered across four collective live streamed events.