In Baumanalyse (Tree Analysis)
(2013) Julius von Bismarck encounters the forest by felling an oak. “Through his slow, circling walk around the tree, von Bismarck scores deeper and deeper into the trunk with a pocketknife. An action that would have the economy of minutes with a chain saw lasts an entire day. For von Bismarck this was not a heroic contest but an exercise of attention. His continuous movement around this object caused the forest to gradually spin around him, creating a state of concentration and focus that enabled him to anticipate exactly when the tree would fall.”
Text: Laura Schleussner, Egomotion, in ‘Julius von Bismarck – Animals are dumb and plants are even dumber’, p. 24
An oak is growing in the forest. A man is walking around its trunk and cuts the bark with a knife. His hand scores a ring around the tree – it looks as if he is caressing the oak. The performance lasts longer than it is possible to observe -– one after another age ring after age ring of the tree is severed. The oak becomes vulnerable despite the calm steps and meditative activity of the man. Step by step a circular trail occurs around the tree. Who is hurting whom and who is going to win this fight remains unclear. Whether the strength of the tree wanes against the persistence of the man – our endurance becomes relative when what has been growing for a century is destroyed in many hours. At the end of the silent dispute the tree lies on the ground. An oak is the symbol of the von Bismarck family and entails a long and rich German tradition.
Text: Marie Egger, 2013