"THE LOST WOODS"
When I sit down in the woods, I sometimes feel a deep bond. It is not mysterious, rather it feels like a sudden clear thought. I like to think of it as an echo from the past, a reminder of evolution.
The lost woods” refers to the near history of forests in Scandinavia. The people who left Karelen in the 17th century to live in the deep forests of Sweden and Norway farmed the land by moving from place to place burning sections of the woods in order to grow grain in the ash. Authorities welcomed their way of life until some hundred years later when the demand for wood rose all over Europe. As many other landless people around the world, they were brutally evicted as soon as the land they lived off became interesting to the capitalists.
In my installations with uprooted trees, I have pondered on human civilization. Throughout history we know that we have treated nature arrogantly, but never with such volume and intensity as today.
The destruction of ecosystems continues though we know that the consequences are devastating.
It seems that our own so-called “progress” prevents us from taking action.
When I spend time digging up a chosen tree, I always ask myself what made me so confident about my right to stop that tree from living in the forest - my right to actually kill it. I take the life of a tree in order to transform it into an art object and then present my dilemma to the viewer. The root of a tree is a hidden source of life. The beauty of its complex system is a reminder of values we no longer understand.
I have to believe that it makes sense to kill that tree, and that my vision will resonate in the viewers mind. We live because we kill. Understanding what this really means may not be possible.
I started making site specific installations in nature in 2004. The principle of using natural materials and allowing the art work to fade away through natural forces, was a great relief after years working primarily with video and computer-based media. The nearby woods became my studio and provided me with endless space and materials free of cost. The time spent in nature while reading the landscape and creating new spaces, has made me even more aware of the careless human behavior which threatens life in our civilization.
The use of forests and trees as symbols and metaphors are both global and historical. I am studying an old path - one that needs to be revitalized.
Text: Anna Widén 2012
Translation: Nancy Sipe