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Learning Amongst Trees

Date: 2017
Materials: Tree Saplings, Toys, Clay, UV Lights, Photographs, Printed Documents, Tree Branches, Leaves, Tree Root, Video
Dimensions: Dimensions Variable
Exhibition history: Yantian Sub-venue Da Meisha Village of 2017 Bi-city Biennial of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB), Shenzhen, China


“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
– Roald Dahl

We asked the curatorial team if there were anything supernatural, magical or spiritual in Dameisha village. That’s how we came to know about the wishing tree in Dameisha.

Many inhabitants of Dameisha village come from outside of YanTian to work for the tourist service industry there.

We started unpacking the idea of a wish tree and wanted to relate this to the space of hope.

Our project begins with Dameisha’s wishing tree and the questions of how do trees learn about their powers to grant wishes? How do trees learn from each other?

Lessons Amongst Trees present an anthology of lessons to a class of tree saplings. Beginning with Dameisha’s wishing tree – the young trees enter the world of trees. They learn about emancipation, greed and sharing. They also learn how to be companions, to talk and mark time.

The lessons bring us into a conversation on revolution, freedom and our cultural sense of belonging.

Wish trees get their calling because they are motivated to increase our capacity to care and worry for others – they serve as a mechanism to distribute hope.

As our vision of the future becomes increasingly bleak and dark, it may be helpful to understand the real power of hope. Hope rests on the momentum of caring, of worrying, of desires. It gives us the ability to open something that the currents of knowledge cannot do. It gives the ‘hopefuls’ the strength to summon something forgotten, something repressed and the something that has never been conscious.