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Rhizomatic Being

What can trees teach about being and becoming?

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Rhizomatic Being is the research project I conducted in the minor New Earth. New Earth challenges artists and designers to question and re-evaluate the relationship between them and the world around them during a time of eco-social crises. By digging up tree roots, I listened to the lessons of trees and discovered a new form with which to map my revelations. This project inspired me to develop Putting Down Roots. 

Trees as Teachers of Being

During the minor, I struggled with the pressure I put on myself to always become a better version of myself. I wanted to learn how to be more content with who I am and learn to be in the moment. I turned to trees as my teachers of being. Trees can teach about patience, as they take their time to grow over the course over many decades. They also teach that growth doesn’t have to be linear, as some years when the conditions are great, a tree can grow a lot and other years the tree saves their energy for when the conditions are better (Kimmerer, 2015). Trees taught me to take my time to let progress happen instead of forcing it to happen.

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Rhizomatic Being, Buitenplaats, November 2022

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Trees as Teachers

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Digging

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Digging up roots, Buitenplaats, November 2022

Digging as Ritual

To closely observe and visualise the growth of trees, I ended up tracing and digging up the roots of a chopped conifer. I needed to dig up the roots carefully to prevent harming the soil ecosystem or breaking off the finer root tips. This required me to work patiently and carefully and put me in a mindful state of calmness. In the end, I excavated one tree root of three meters and to reciprocate to the earth, I planted new life in the form of tulips. The act of digging allowed me to step in a state of careful, reciprocal, mindful being in the moment.

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Rizomatic Thinking

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Rhizomatic Thinking

I exhibited my revelations about non-linear progress below the excavated tree root at the New Earth Exhibition I helped organise on the Buitenplaats. During the exhibition, I wrote out my thoughts and revelations about being and becoming in the shape of the tree root, as if I was metaphorically digging up my thoughts. The way I structured my writing was rhizomatic, scrawling out meandering sentences in a non-linear, arbitrary order.

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Rhizomatic Being, Buitenplaats, December 2022

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Rhizomatic Being, Buitenplaats, December 2022

Sources

Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., & Massumi, B. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (First edition). University of Minnesota Press.

 

Lee, J. (2018, August 25). What Humanity Can Learn From Plants - OFF BEAT. Medium. https://medium.com/s/off-beat/what-humanity-can-learn-from-plants-efece7acd3a0

 

Kimmerer, R. W. (2015). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants(First Paperback). Milkweed Editions.

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