To Each Forest An Artist

Director of the Sorbonne University's Institute of Science and Arts Olga Kisseleva told “Dialogue of Arts” how an artist is able to understand trees. 


Svetlana Gusarova. You mentioned that “upon entering a forest one should acknowledge that from that point on art’s territory begins.” When even the forest is appropriated are there any art-free territories left? 

Olga Kisseleva. For something to become a territory of art it requires a large number of artists to get involved in it. Do you know how many artists work with the forest? Nikolay Polissky and a few European artists. This is the reason why the territory of art should be expanded so that each forest, can have an artist to explore it and encourage others to perceive it at another level.

SG: In the project you produced in Biscarrosse you as an author completely dissolved into the artwork. Looking at the rescued tree, people who are not familiar with its story would not see an artwork in it. 

OK: On this point I can not agree with you. Me and my fellow scientists work with the forest as material and try to create a new visual or aural effect in order to give the viewer a glimpse of the extraordinary nature of the forest and the artist’s intervention in it. This is why our trees are recognizable. 

SG: Do you presume that different forms of life are characterized by similar psychological responses?

OK:  In France at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research there is the world’s only laboratory of psychology and physiology of trees. In it scientists communicate with trees. They can understand their feelings and what they want to say to their partners and enemies. French biologists have been studying trees for many years and have created a dictionary of their language. To date it contains more than one hundred expressive forms used by trees. In recent years scientists themselves have been learning how to speak this language. 

SG:  Does a cedar only understand cedars or can it talk with ash trees as well?

OK: In the natural environment different tree species communicate between each other – some more than others. So far in our projects, only trees of the same species have communicated with one another. Perhaps, at the Polytech festival in the Gorky Park we will try to establish communication between different species. By the way, trees’ communicative abilities vary. For example, poplars and birch trees are much more talkative than oak trees. 



February 16, 2018