Issue 9

Formafantasma Culture Makers

Photos by Cleo goossens Words by sarah dorkenwald

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin
are Studio Formafantasma

 

Meeuwenlaan 106 G, 1021 JL, Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Woods come into view; thick, dense woods, seen from above, with white, tightly curled treetops like florets of cauliflower. The ­higher they are, the whiter, contrasting with the deep blood-red of the lower undergrowth in a clear portrayal of the complex structure of this white forest. The camera pans slowly over the forest at a measured pace, exploring, seeking to understand, yet also enraptured, transported. A voice is heard, clear and firm, speaking slowly with deliberate pauses between the words. The tree is speaking to us. It says, You probably are surprised to hear me speaking. You’ve always imagined us as incapable of intelligence, language, empathy. You can think of me only as a raw material for building your world. In your mind we have been, and continue to be, obtuse green stones, brownish, mineral zombies, at best green spots at the edge of your sight. Yet I am alive, just like the pets that surround you or, probably, more intensely alive than them. You have spent the last years and decades trying to acknowledge the rights of animals; you have extended your human privileges to them. Now we are claiming those rights. We do so because in the end, ninety per cent of the biomass on this planet is vegetal matter. We are alive—exactly like you, although we live much longer than you do. Therefore, we know your lineage, we know your story; we are, after all, old friends. The tree talks and talks, explaining how it sheds its leaves in winter to deal with the cold more effectively, and reminding us that we are incapable of shedding parts of our body because, unlike its leaves, our limbs do not regrow. Perhaps this is a moment for us to stop short and contemplate as we listen. Perhaps we will wonder whether the forest is truly superior to us, whether we can learn from itand whether we can exist without it.

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