Paxos Festival 2023
Exhibition from 10 August to 10 September 2023
Open daily 8:00 to 10:30 pm
Old School, Loggos, Paxos
Contemporary Artists Pay Hommage to Trees
Opening in the presence of the artists
Thursday 10 August 2023
7:30 to 11:00 pm
Jane Lacy Hodge/Guido Maria Isolabella/Manousos Manousakis/Maria Mavropoulou/Jean-Manuel Simoes/George Stamatakis/Gabriel Stauffer
Curated by Alessandra Pace
When trees start hating people’s ingratitude…
The day will come when trees will hate people’s ingratitude and will stop creating shade, swishes and oxygen.
They will take their roots and leave.
Big holes will remain in the earth where the trees stood.
When people understand what they lost, they will start crying bitterly above those holes.
Many will fall inside those holes.
Dirt will cover them. No one will grow.
Poem by Argiris Hionis
PAXOS LIVING SCULPTURES
Nodes and contortions evidence their centennial resilience to adversity. A dozen of them survived the ravages of Saracen pirates, outlived scores of generations of humans, and witnessed history unfolding: Norman and Angevin conquests, Venetian domination, French and British protectorates, the fight for independence, the birth of Greece as nation state, Italian and German invasion during World War II. But their struggle for survival is not over. As much decaying due to neglect as bulldozed, or severed to clear sea-views, the olive trees of Paxos — amongst the oldest in Europe — are now threatened by another form of piracy: the rape of the environment perpetrated by “development and financial growth.”
If anybody or anything deserves the status of national monument, it is trees, creatures devoid of legal rights. Standing silent and impartial, how many cubic metres of the oxygen we breathe have they generated since birth? They produce the very essence of life magnanimously, indistinctive of race, gender, age and class. Majestic in their six tons wood harness, monumental in their circumference that takes four people with stretched-out arms to embrace, impartial and equanimous, the olive trees of Paxos are living monuments, were they only recognized as such. So far we’ve celebrated the wrong heroes. A change in focus over historic landmarks is long overdue.
LIVING SCULPTURES attempts to instil a culture of care for the environment; to spark a sense of aesthetic literacy, and nurture for nature necessary to create the consensus that will lead to protect the habitat of the small Ionian island, which is being relentlessly eroded. The project aims to single out, map and list as cultural heritage the multi-centennial Paxiot olive trees, and invite artists, composers, writers, and performers to present “tree-specific” works. Artists will interact with silent giants whose endurance and fragility are thought provoking, and seek to recalibrate the notion of human agency in relation to other living organisms. This exhibition is only the first event in a series of others to follow in the year to come.
Every time we harm a tree, we hurt ourselves. Because a mature tree with a full crown absorbs as much CO2 as an individual produces, trees effectively remit our sins in terms of carbon footprint. Plants produce the oxygen we breathe, they temper the climate by releasing water vapour into the atmosphere, and the workings of their roots both oppose erosion and facilitate the absorption of rainwater into the soil thereby replenishing groundwater. Plants can live without us. We cannot live without them.
Alessandra Pace / Faye Lychnou
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