Research

Annette Arlander – Performing with Plants

Researcher: Annette Arlander

Annette Arlander is engaged as professor in performance art and theory for the two-year (2018-2019) VR-funded project Performing with Plants.

Goal & purpose

Performing with plants, especially with trees, is an artistic research project aiming to investigate the question "how to perform landscape today?" which I have worked with for several years. The question is not rhetorical; our relationship to the environment has changed drastically and demands new approaches. A post-humanist perspective prompts us to rethink the notion of landscape, and to realize that the surrounding world consists of creatures, life forms and material phenomena with differing degrees of volition, needs and agency. What forms of performing landscape could be relevant in this situation? One possibility is to approach individual elements, like singular trees, and explore what could be done together with them, for instance performing for camera together.  The main aim of the project is to explore such possibilities in practice.

The project strives to explore whether collaborating with trees and other plants could be one way of entering in dialogue with our surroundings that resonates with a post-humanist and new- materialist view on the environment. By focusing on individual elements in the landscape, especially plants, - which we chemically have a symbiotic relationship with, while they produce the oxygen we use, and we produce the carbon dioxide they need - more sensitive and ecologically sustainable modes of performing can hopefully be developed. And these methods, art works and events can perhaps serve as inspiration and provocation leading to revised ways of understanding and experiencing our surrounding world.

Research questions

An overarching research task is: How to perform landscape today by collaborating with trees and other plants, with an awareness of the insights generated by post-humanist and new-materialist research? The most important questions to be explored are:

1) How can I collaborate with nonhuman entities like plants, trees or bushes?
2) How can I further develop experiences and techniques from previous attempts at performing landscape?
3) How can I create actions with plants, in which humans can be invited to participate?

This is how the project will be carried out

The main working method consists in making documented artistic experiments, developed on the basis of previous experiences in performing landscape and in reflecting on them in relation to some theoretical notions. The three main modes of expression to be used in the artistic exploration are: 1) performances for camera repeated with the same tree and edited into video works, 2) co-performances with visitors recorded on video, edited and projected back onto the site in a live performance and 3) interactive experiments with talking trees, or a lecture performance with voice over text, live action and a monologue combined with projections.

On the basis of these experiments poetic instructions or event scores will be written, to be realized or simply contemplated, as an updated form of a Fluxus technique. A central dimension of the project is thus to distil and articulate methods for co-performing with plants and trees that are possible to apply as a poetic and critical practice. 

Schedule

The project is planned to go on for two years (2018-2019)

Read more about the project and about Annette Arlander here

The project on the Research Catalogue 

Annette Arlander Stockholm blog 

Annette Arlanders homepage 

If you know of interesting trees in the Stockholm region that I should meet, please contact annette.arlander@uniarts.se