DAY WITH OLD TJIKKO
On May 14, 2019, I had the opportunity to spend a day with one of the oldest trees in the world, Old Tjikko, a small spruce tree that grows on Fulufjället mountain in a national park in western Sweden, near the Norwegian border. Part of the tree grows as a shrub along the ground, and have the amazing age of 9950 years according to carbon dating. The tree is a clone—that is, new shoots grow from old roots.
I spent the day together with Old Tjikko, Camilla Johansson Bäcklund, and a broiling sun, performing for a camera on a tripod, recording a moment with the tree every hour between 10:30 and 19:30—sitting, standing, alone and together. Camilla had suggested this tree when I agreed to share my practice by spending a day with her and a suitable tree. It took time to get up on the mountain; it was off-season, wet snow, and water everywhere; the paths nearly undetectable. Starting out six in the morning from the nearest village, we did not reach the spruce before 10 am. And we had to leave by 8 pm in order to be back in the village before midnight. I edited several videos based on the recorded performances and published my notes written after each session (in Swedish) on my blog. They will be added as a voice-over to one of the videos, two of which are viewable online. The first note, as translated:
“10:30. The first image with old Tjikko—it is so small! And it has several “tops” among its lower branches. It grows like the junipers in the outer archipelago, like a shrub along the ground. The “ordinary” spruce that rises from among the branches is actually rather unremarkable, one could perhaps say modest. I chose to stand next to it, in the snow between its branches and to hold on to it. To be honest, I felt mainly my frozen toes. After that I sat down on the rock nearby and looked at the miniature spruce next to me. When I stepped out of the image Camilla went to stand next to the spruce for a while. This was the first encounter. The sun is shining, right now everything is extremely beautiful!”
This performance turned out to be the first in a project called “Meetings with remarkable and unremarkable trees”.