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Gallery Flora 7pm
“Does a rainforest need a forester?” This is what one of the protagonists in SubPersona II video installation by P L AT E AU R E S I D U E, the imaginary identityof Aljaž Celarc and Eva Pavlič Seifert, may ask himself. We might just wave thisoff, because why a complex and self-regulating ecosystem of a rainforest wouldneed man, when the balance of the sensitive forest matter is supported by all theelements involved, and the fundamental order is determined by the ancient treesthat have been forming this forest for centuries, keeping it safe from disasters.How could man’s role replace what centuries-old trees do, trees that are also seencalled spiritual, subterranean or maternal because they provide nutrients for allthe forest inhabitants. Moreover, those who explore forests study the rainforestmechanisms, in order to regulate and preserve other, much younger, forests.But although the remnants of rainforest are additionally protected, and humanintervention is discouraged in order to preserve balance, Sub Persona II does notgive us an explicit answer. No saw and no axe should enter the protected areas;yet, climate change, as a result of economic and political actions, brings this intoquestion. Can the forest diversity be preserved for future generations withouthuman intervention?We will look for the answer in a conversation with a forester, a logger, and ahunter, who think differently about the role and responsibility of man in restoringthe disturbed natural balance. Although the aforementioned protagonists arethe carriers of the film narrative, because we understand their language, on avisual level forest is a comprehensive organism that humans are only a part of.By comparing forest and people, the artists talk about the interconnectedness oftheir activities, which further emphasizes the responsibility of people towardsforests. These scenes are telling us that that roots, branches, fruits, seeds are notonly part of a particular tree, but are part of a much more complex organismthat like a web encompasses all creatures and substances in the forest. The blackand white scenes are taking us away from an idealized image of the forest andinstead of an idyll or an escape from urban reality, they offer us bleak pictures.By divesting the scenes of color, the local protagonists and the specific locationof the rainforest in Kočevje are relocated from time and space, thus becoming ageneral place with which many of us can identify. The atmosphere of black andwhite videos is enhanced by the music of Domen Učkar alias Lifecutter, whoseeffects and sounds function like synthetic onomatopoeia.Since the attitude towards the forest reflects the worldview in general, the conceptof forest has always reflected the social, economic and political order. Fromthe perception of forest as a dark and wild space outside civilization that providesshelter to outcasts and beasts, to the perception of forest as a natural resource, asa result of an increased deforestation. Furthermore, from a colonial perspective,the forest is the realm of nature, in which people remain primitive. Yet, it is wellknown nowadays that rainforests preserve knowledge without which it is notpossible to preserve the damaged ecosystems, which requires looking at thingsfrom an angle that is not necessarily human. That is why P L AT E AU R E S I -D U E reverses the perspective and presents forest as an equal participant in thediscussions concerning ecology, economy, culture and recreation.
Moreover, the duo’s approach reveals that forest is not really a radical Otherthat belongs to the domain of an entirely natural landscape, and as such cannotbe a political space. After all, as Paulo Tavares says, forest is actually a differentform of urban space that eludes the spatial and epistemic geometry of a colonialmodernist thought and imagination. Therefore, it is unsustainable to think offorest in relation to the city as a political space, but it is necessary to expandand transform the concept of the city in relation to the forest. Because forest isnot only an ecosystem that needs to be saved, but it also an important teacher.Irena Borić

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