PADRE/ Quercus cerris L.


 

FATHER/ Quercus cerris L.Tribute to a dead monumental tree.

This sculpture intervention is a tribute to a dead monumental Quercus cerris L., which was iconic to the Botanic Garden of the Valencia University Jardín Botánico de la Universidad de Valencia. It was developed in two stages, and was intended as an open-ended piece.

The first stage took place in the fall 2016: crossing, with hand tools only, the log of the dead tree. On one of its sides, I began the carving of the back of a human figure, and on the opposite side, the front of that same figure. These simultaneous actions, carried on alternatively, eventually met each other and created one body, embedded inside the log.

The wooden sculpture represents a body –my body– in fetal position, respecting the verticality that is the natural condition of the tree, even dead.  

The embedded figure was left there during the winter 2016 until the following spring, in order for visitors and workers of the Botanic Garden to get used to its presence.

The second stage took place in the late spring 2017: extract the body out of the tree. José Plumed, the Botanic Garden’s hedger and expert in monumental trees, helped detach the body from the heart of the tree with a chainsaw, letting a threshold –an absence– through which anyone could walk across the inside of a tree that lived for three generations.

The body extracted from the tree was left on the floor, this time in the lying, horizontal position of a dead body, no longer in fetal position but reclining, next to the threshold-tree, and was ornamented with a mask made out of the final remains of the living tree melted in bronze.

Passing from verticality to horizontality generates a change both in the way we look at an object and in the observed object itself: a simple positioning change takes the observer from a nascent figure to a lying vestige, from embryo to corpse; and so, it is the very feeling of the life cycle, the landscape in the widest meaning of the word, that is changed in the observer’s mind.

At the end of this second stage, the intervention entered an open phase: what the intervention will become over time, its potential and eventual transformations in relation to the environment, and the unknown dialog between the individuals and the empty space, each person’s intimate relationship to what once was a living patrimony and offers now the possibility to inhabit for just a moment the space of its own absence.