|Pomul vietii /Cum interpretam semne pe care nu le intelegem?
The Tree of Life /How do we read signs we cannot understand?
|Pomul vietii /Cum interpretam semne pe care nu le intelegem?, Chronic Desire – Sete Cronica, installation, Muzeul Corneliu Miklosi, Timisoara, 2023
| The intervention at the Corneliu Miklosi Public Transport Museum is an installation imagined as a place to sit together, and a space for reflection built from the idea of a school under the tree, a school close to nature. The installation consists of a modular structure of wooden Europallets, objects commonly used for transporting goods, a platform-support covered with old hand-woven carpets, and kilims with archaic motifs on which the public can sit.
The kilims on the platform generate a vernacular space populated by a multitude of abstract signs and symbols of renewal, the tree of life, nature, immortality, fertility, feminine, masculine, marriage, animals and plants, many of the signs also having an apotropaic character, which wards off evil spirits. Even if these weavings come from different geographical areas - Oltenia, the Balkans, Anatolia, Bessarabia, the Caucasus, Persia/Iran, they evoke a common, archaic cultural heritage that transcends spatial and temporal boundaries, a heritage that now, when we walk or look at them, brings us closer to the other finite entities that once looked or walked on these kilims imagined by the wonderful weavers.
The installation will contain a central element, a living tree through which we want to invoke the idea of nature's renewal and relate this archaic motif – the tree of life – to the present moment, to the increasingly complicated years we are all going through, of pandemics, war and climate change. The tree presented in the installation, a birch bought from a nursery near Timisoara – the commodity tree – is freed from its economic meaning, it becomes a tree that symbolically mediates with natural forces, a tree that speaks to us about nature and nature's rights. At the end of the exhibition, in spring, the birch tree will be planted, and become part of the natural cycle again.
This space will function as a place for discussion, not just an art installation. Oana Mateescu, researcher in the anthropology of work and Ovidiu Tichindeleanu, philosopher and cultural theorist, will activate the idea of school by giving presentations followed by discussions on February 18, 2023. In their presentations, they will talk about decolonisation and the possibility of a pluriversal political project, about the problem of industrialisation, economic production, and how the economy articulates with the reality of climate change, but also with the social, political and social resettlement and fractures that define the present. A further activation of the space will be made possible through collaboration with the artist Harun Morrison and the presentation in the context of the installation of his work Environmental Justice Cards, a series of playing cards with questions that can activate and animate discussions about climate throughout the exhibition.
| The tree of knowledge is pluriversal: a discussion about ecology and political chances in a changed world
"Corneliu Miklosi" Museum of Public Transport, Timisoara
Birch bending: political ecology and deindustrialization Just as other genres (fiction or law), social theory has had trouble reclaiming the arboreal point of view, not least because of the mismatch in temporal scales. Starting from the very material figure of the birch, at the center of this installation, I try to bend theory (political ecology and economy) so that it approximates the perspective of the tree itself: a relatively short-lived pioneer species that thrives in industrial ruins, strikes into new territory while adapting to radical transformations, but is also deeply social and often enmeshed into mutual networks of support and communication with other species. In a present that couples deindustrialization with implacable climate change, ongoing ventures beyond the capitalist model (such as degrowth) are necessary. Perhaps the hardy birch can even bend towards a revolutionary ecology (with a nod to Murray Bookchin).
The Pluriversal in Eastern Europe: a Realist Proposal The much-awaited end of the tunnel of the "post-socialist" transition has finally come and was burnt in flames, while the entire world has just entered a transition on multiple levels: economical, political, social, cultural, ecological. Yet this belated millennial turn lacks an enlightened orientation. Decolonial thinkers and activists from the Global South have long proposed that, instead of the "universal", which has forcefully guided the progressives as well as the colonial empires in the past 500 years and some more, we should now look into developing relations within a pluriversal world, able to host the many worlds of different civilizations and cultures. But what are our resources and obstacles, and how are we to cultivate realistically the pluriversal in Eastern Europe? In this conversation, I will start with a story and make the argument for a major re-orientation of sensibilities which could be brought by the cultural and artistic workers of the region.