Sacred Trees

Sacred Trees is a new solo work, a multimedia-based performance that investigates wide-ranging responses towards the natural world, especially trees. This work expands the conceptual territory that has been the focus of my practice for the past six years: considering nature as a ‘body’ that is alive, vulnerable, and socially contextualized. Sacred Trees acknowledges that the body of nature, like mine, is a political subject affected by regulations, domination and exploitation, and one that is entitled to rights and respect. This work will call attention to the construction and representation of the natural environment in an attempt to question what is natural and how our perceptions of the natural world are shaped.

This performance consists of the following sections:

1 ) Maple Sap performance: The three stills below are from the 15-minute video for the live performance dealing with the maple syrup harvest.

2 ) Endicott Pear Tree: A 3 minute clip from a 13-minute video can be viewed below. The focal point of the camera in this video is on the flowers of the tree in the foreground of the image. In the back, out of focus, a man can be seen behind what appears to be the bars of a cage. As he paces around the small space, white text scrolls in various directions competing for attention. At times the text disappears within the white of the spring blossoms.

Endicott Pear Tree (rough cut) from Johannes Zits on Vimeo.

3 ) Protest Movements and Toronto Islands’ Black Willows monologue represented by the image above: The focus of this section will be personal. I will directly address the audience and discuss frankly the influences that brought my work to this point. Part of this monologue will respond to why, at times, I perform without any clothes. I will relate this to protests such as the 1999 “Freedom to be Yourself Campaign” and the idealism and utopic visions of other activists wanting to change specific aspects of our culture and its values. The monologue will contemplate on the relationship between the fragility of the human body and that of nature.

4 ) Harvesting, Icons and Symbols Montage: At the core of this video is footage from an action in one of the few remaining strands of old-growth red spruce on Mount Greylock, Massachusetts (the first of those seven images). Collaged into this footage is a series of shots of trees relating to consumption and representing trees of particular importance. A voice-over narrative will recount their place in history and how I have come to understand their significance.

The last six images below are other examples of stills from this 15-minute video.

5 ) The Golden Spruce performance: The four-minute clip below is from the 20-minute live performance dealing with Kiidk’yass (the Golden Spruce) which was cut down in Haida Gwaii, B.C. The blurry video footage includes a voice over narrative that will go into the complex history of the tree.

golden spruce clips 4 from Johannes Zits on Vimeo.

The project was made possible in part thanks to a grant by

and is distributed by

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