POPLAR TREE FUNERAL
Performance by Robert Sosnowski and Friends
Warsaw, August 8, 2021
PHOTO BY JAAP AREINS
YOU & I ARE EARTH
We have gathered here today to bury the Poplar Tree. This action is of an artistic nature.
Thank you very much for your numerous presence, and I kindly ask you to exercise caution, maintain distance, and optionally wear masks.
This ceremony is secular in nature. I hope that the atmosphere of this event will be cheerful, yet reflective and contemplative.
We have gathered here to bury the Poplar Tree. It is an unusual situation. Perhaps this is the first action of its kind in the world. I say "perhaps" because while I have not found information about such activities, in the long history of human interaction with the environment, it is not impossible for such an action to have taken place. Perhaps in ancient times?
This Poplar, which now lies before us, was lying in a meadow by the road in one of the villages in the Mazovian Voivodeship. It was cut down with the intention of being turned into planks, which would likely have been used in nearby farms. It occurred to me that it should be buried.
From the trunk of the Poplar, I created a sculpture in the shape of a coffin. For the first time, the packaging is simultaneously the content. The sarcophagus is solid. Full of Poplar.
Based on the counted rings, the Poplar was exactly 124 years old. It was cut down in 2020. This means that it grew in the late 19th century, precisely in the year 1896. Knowing the location where it grew, I think it had a pleasant life, despite the dynamic 20th century and two world wars. It seems to me that it passed away without regret, strong and fulfilled.
Many of you are probably wondering what prompted me to carry out this action. As you can see on the monument, there is the slogan: "You & I Are Earth." This epitaph is the essence of this action for me. I borrowed the slogan from a Dutch plate that was recovered from the Thames in London in recent years. This plate bears the inscription and the date "1661."
Since I gained a deeper awareness of existence as a teenager and began to ask questions, pondering the nature of being, one of my first observations was that everything that exists is more unified than it may initially appear.
I thought that if we were to look at the Earth from a distant star, we would see unity within which diversity exists.
But it is precisely the change in perspective that allows me to consider the Earth and all its beings as more of a single entity than separate entities. Humans, animals, trees, other plants, and even inanimate matter have, in my opinion, much more in common with each other than is implied by our customs and laws.
Moreover, we are dealing with a constant exchange and intermingling of these beings within the Earth's ecosystem.
The conviction of a strong common denominator among earthly beings has accompanied me to this day, and its traces are likely visible in my artistic works.
You & I Are Earth. We are dust, as some would call it, or simply Earth, as I prefer to think of it. So, this is the main motivation behind this action.
Trees have awakened my admiration and awe for many years. They are exceptional representatives of a numerous group of underappreciated earthly beings, and today, I would like to honor these beings together with you by symbolically burying this Poplar and erecting this monument in the form of a gravestone to commemorate this event.
Let us proceed with the burial proceedings. I suggest that anyone who wishes may approach the Poplar. You can touch it. In a moment, we will place it in the prepared grave. I will need the help of eight men. I have prepared special straps that will assist us in placing the Poplar in the pit. Anyone who desires can later sprinkle a handful of Earth between the coffin and the edge of the pit. I would like to leave the top part of the sculpture exposed, at least for some time.
You & I Are Earth.
PHOTOS BY AGA & ADA SOSNOWSKA
YOU & I ARE EARTH
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude.
To my parents, Alfred and Anastazja, thank you for supporting me in this and other artistic projects. Your genuine interest, advice, collaboration, and assistance are invaluable!
To my wife Kamdi and my daughters Adaobi, Nnenne, and Ndidi, thank you for your kindness, interest, support, advice, artistic collaboration, and understanding, as my works often spread throughout the house and clutter our space a bit.
Thank you to my professor Paweł Althamer, who drew me deeper into the world of art. He radiated his philosophy and artistic enthusiasm, opening wider doors.
Thanks to my previous curators: Matei Julia Althamer and Jakub Biegaj.
And to Mr. Sławek from Mostówka, who provided me with the Poplar. To Rafał Chojnacki and Alex Stępni, who will create two films of this event. To my sister Ada, Szymon Lorenc, and Jaap Arriens, and all of you for the photos. To Robert Kwaśniewski for the live coverage. To Marcin Krupa and Radek Kozer for the graphic work. To Nathan Williams for the musical illustration. To Tomek Lewandowski for transportation. To Hubert Suder for taking care of my well-being. And to Karl Goebel.
And also, thank you very much for attending this event.