Collab With Stefan Sollenius
soil, plants, bio materials, ceramics, mirror
size variable upon installation
Anthro-bonsai is a research-creation project that my collaborator (Stefan sollenius) and I recently began at the OU Gallery Residency for a month in March.
We seek to explore and expand the metaphor of bonsai in the context of the Anthropocene.
Bonsai is a traditional Asian art cultivating miniature trees. They barely survive through intense human intervention - branches are twisted and restrained, bodies and roots are aggressively pruned, and the soil is too shallow for the tree to grow. However, humans have been fascinated by contemplating these dwarf trees for centuries considering bonsai as the essence of nature.
In 2021, the way bonsai are generated and treated reminds us of the violent human intervention and exploitation of the earth. We questioned, "If the bonsai has symbolized the essence of nature, then what can now be the essence of nature in the Anthropocene that we should contemplate?". In this changing environment with accelerating pollution, it must not be just the beautiful trees in the forest that bonsai represent.
"If the bonsai has symbolized the essence of nature,
then what can now be the essence of nature in the Anthropocene
that we should contemplate?"
we want to make a series of bonsai with many different materials like soil, fungus, plastic, and vinyl, which we should contemplate in the Anthropocene.
The first bonsai series we made on the Vancouver island is about Canadian human-made forestry and its homogeneity. Stefan’s experience working in the forestry industry taught me what is actually the process of reforestation. After ten years in the reforestation industry all around Canada from Haida to northern Quebec, he saw the consequence of reforesting clear-cuts, not as ecological preservation or repairing nature but instead to manipulate new forests massively. Like the bonsai tree, species of trees are selected, planted in restricted zones and carefully monitored. In these reforested clear-cuts other species naturally growing are managed and removed to create a homogenous tree farm. Spruce, pine and fir, are the three most commonly planted trees all over Canada. We will get these three trees from the local tree nursery and re-symbolize them as an essence of Canadian woods.