Open Call 2020
FORESTS FOR THE FUTURE
From the Amazon to Australia to the Arctic, the forest fire has become the most visible spectacle of the climate crisis. Burning trees are both a cause and a consequence of climate change; they sit at the centre of spiralling processes of destruction, and the sight sparks both despair and denial.
In the face of this crisis, the living forest is still a site of hope. Trees are a planet-spanning work of natural art; from the bright intricacy of a maple leaf, to the kaleidoscopic diversity of a rainforest. Today, like art, they are essential to imagining breathable futures. The forest is the landscape of our deep past; it provokes dreams of a wilder world to come, a restoration of our species’ place within nature. The forest is a futuristic technology, capable of regenerative processes, communicative networks, and carbon-capture feats that our own inventions are yet to rival. And the forest is an intimate everyday habitat, providing shade, shelter and sustenance to those who know how to live and work with it.
But the forest also provokes human discomforts and anxieties. It is a place of abundant decay, where life and death intermingle. Of creatures we have never encountered, let alone named; of fears encoded into our darkest fairy tales. Its vast network of branches and roots connects the heavens with the underworld, the sky with the soil, dissolving the barriers between mammals, insects, plants, fungi, bacteria. And the forest disrupts our sense of chronology: a tree lives at a different pace to a person or a political system, forcing us to think at different timescales.
Send us a proposal that engages the inspiring or the unsettling aspects of forests; that take trees as ideas or as materials; that turn to past, present, or future and imagine new habitats into existence. Can art represent a tree’s experience, or can an artist collaborate with a forest? If the tree is key to living in symbiosis, how might we begin to learn its language?
text by Shona McCombes