IMG_8059 2.HEIC

COTTONWOOD TREE FUNERAL

Performance by Robert Sosnowski and Friends
Warsaw, 8/08/2021

 

PHOTO BY JAAP AREINS

 
 

EULOGY

YOU & I ARE EARTH

We have gathered here to bury the Tree - a Cottonwood. This is an artistic action.

 

Thank you very much for coming in large numbers and I sincerely ask you to be careful, keep your distance and possibly use masks.

 

This ceremony is secular in nature. I hope that the mood of this event will be cheerful. But at the same time, not devoid of reflection and thoughtfulness.

 

We are gathered here to bury Cottonwood. This is an unusual situation. Perhaps this is the first action of this nature in the world. I say perhaps, because although I have not found information about this kind of activity, in the long history of human relations with the environment, it cannot be excluded that such an activity took place. Perhaps in the distant future?

 

This Cottonwood Tree, which is lying here in front of us now, used to lie in a meadow by the side of the road, in one of the villages in the Mazovia region. It had been cut down to make planks, which in turn would probably be used on local farms. It occurred to me that it should be buried.

 

From the trunk of a Cottonwood I created a sculpture, which has the shape of a coffin. For the first time the package is also the content. The sarcophagus is solid. It is full of Cottonwood Trees.

 

From the counted rings, the Cottonwood was exactly 124 years old. It was cut down in 2020. So that means it grew in the late 19th century, in 1896 to be exact. Knowing where she grew I think she had a pleasant life, despite the dynamic 20th century, despite two major wars. It seems to me that she left without regrets, strong and fulfilled.

 

Many of you are probably wondering what prompted me to carry out this action.

As you can see on the memorial is the slogan: You & I Are Earth. This epitaph is the essence of this action for me. I took the slogan from a Dutch plate that was fished out of the Thames in London in recent years. This plate bears this very inscription and the date 1661.

 

Ever since, as a teenager, I gained a deeper awareness of existence and began to ask questions and ponder the nature of being, one of my first observations was that everything that is, is to a greater degree a unity than it may seem at first glance. I thought at the time, if we were to look at the Earth from a distant star, after all, we would see a unity within which there is diversity. But it is precisely the change of perspective to a distant one that allows, in my opinion, to consider the Earth and all its entities, more as one entity than as beings distant from each other. People, animals, trees and other plants, and even inanimate matter, in my view, have much more in common with each other than is apparent from accepted customs and laws. For the rest, there is a constant exchange and mixing of these beings within the Earth's ecosystem. The conviction of a strong common denominator of earthly beings accompanies me to this day, its traces are probably visible in my artistic works.

 

 

You & I Are Earth. We are dust as some prefer to call it, or simply Earth as I prefer to think of it.

So that is the main motivation for this action.

 

Trees have inspired my admiration and delight for many years. They are exceptional representatives of a large group of unappreciated earthly beings and therefore today I would like to honor these beings together with you by making a symbolic burial of this Cottonwood Tree and erecting this monument in the form of a gravestone to commemorate this event.

 

Please, let us proceed with the burial. I suggest that anyone who wants to come up to the Cottonwood Tree. You can touch it. Afterwards, anyone who wishes can sprinkle a handful of earth between the coffin and the edge of the pit. I would like to leave the top of the sculpture uncovered, at least for a while.

 

You & I Are Earth.

 

PHOTO BY AGA and ADA SOSNOWSKIE

 
 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

YOU & I ARE EARTH

Finally, I would like to say a short thank you.
 

To my parents, Alfred and Anastazja, thank you for supporting me in this and other art projects. Your keen interest, advice, cooperation, and help are invaluable!
 

To my wife Kamdi and daughters Adaobi, Nnenne, and Ndidi, thank you for your kindness, interest, support, advice, artistic collaboration, and understanding as my artwork is often spread out around the house and clutters our space a bit.

 

I thank my professor Paweł Althamer who drew me deeper into the world of art. He irradiated me with his philosophy and artistic enthusiasm, he opened the door wider.

I thank my current curators: Matea Julia Althamer and Jakub Biegaj.

And also Mr. Slawek from Mostówka, who provided me with the Cottonwood. To Rafał Chojnacki and Alex Stępień, who will create two films from this event. My sister Aga, Szymon Lorenc and Jaap Arriens and all of you for the pictures. Robert Kwaśniewski for live coverage. Marcin Krupa and Radek Kozera for graphic design. Natan Williams for music illustration. Tomek Lewandowski for transportation. Hubert Suder for taking care of my form. And Karl Goebel.

And also thank You very much for coming to this event.

 

PHOTO BY SZYMON LORENC

 
 

FILM BY ALEX STĘPIEŃ