“If one tree fruits, they all fruit. Not one tree in a grove, but the whole grove; not one grove in the forest, but every grove; all across the county and all across the state. The trees act not as individuals, but somehow as a collective. Exactly how they do this, we don’t yet know. But what we see is the power of unity. What happens to one happens to us all. We can starve together or feast together. All flourishing is mutual.”
— Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
TREESEARCH is the third collaboration between artist collective Mocrep (US) and Bastard Assignments (UK). TREESEARCH was commissioned by Bastard Assignments as part of their 2020 series, Lockdown Jams.
In TREESEARCH, we each observed, studied, and shared stories about specific, curated locations in our real lives—sites near trees, shaped by trees—with a tree meditation at the root of our shared practice. We collected and created video, audio, text, and images as traces of this process. This site offers a scrapbook of randomly-generated snapshots of the material we accumulated during our collaboration. We encourage you to navigate it as you would any site in the physical world—with openness to unexpected discoveries and the courage to pursue deeper encounters when curiosity compels you.
Under quarantine, we felt touched by the potential of remote collaboration to connect people in disparate places, and to connect each of us more deeply to our own place in the process. In North America, where members of Mocrep live, settler colonialism has eradicated the histories of the sites we live on. More broadly, capitalism and white supremacy culture create incentives for us to forget or misremember history, natural history, ecology, and biology. We undertook TREESEARCH in hopes the collaboration would drive us all to recover some local histories and sciences, and to share that learning. We likewise hope it spurs you to notice, appreciate, and work to understand the site you are viewing from.View a tree
Members of Mocrep live and work in present-day Chicago (Zhigaagoong in Ojibwe Soto dialect). For millennia, Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi people allied in the “Three Fires Confederacy,” along with people from many other tribes, traversed, occupied, and sustained the land in the Great Lakes area. Despite settler colonialism, Indigenous people have continuously resided in Chicago since before the city was established. Now, the area is home to 65,000 Native Americans, the third-largest urban Native American community in the US. (Read more at native-land.ca and settlercolonialcityproject.org.)