Thoughtfactory: Rhizomes

bark, trees, roads, bushland

Waitpinga: roadside vegetation Baum Rd #5

I have just come across  this current  exhibition of trees at the Monash University Museum of Art entitled Tree Story. I do not know much about the exhibition, or the narrative that is implied in the word 'story'.  The information on the MUMA website is very minimal. It says that the  exhibition's:

"creative practices "create a ‘forest’ of ideas relating to critical environmental and sustainability issues. At its foundation—or roots—are Indigenous ways of knowing and a recognition of trees as our ancestors and family...Tree Story takes inspiration from the underground networks, information sharing and mutual support understood to exist within tree communities, and poses the question: what can we learn from trees and the importance of Country?" 

There are no links to the Tree Story podcast, or to The Tree School publication on the website.  So we don't  have  access to the fleshing  out of the above ideas by the curators. This minimal online approach to an exhibition is standard art gallery practice .The art galleries  continue to assume that exhibitions are about people  physically visiting the gallery, even after a year of living with  the Covid-19 pandemic and its restrictions on people movement. 

Does the  use of 'school' suggest that trees  have the capacity to learn?  Or does tree school  refer to  a place where people can gather for communal learning and the production of knowledge grounded in lived experience and connection to communities? I have no idea. 

From a recent poodlewalk in January 2021:

 It is roadside vegetation along Baum Rd in Waitpinga.  Sadly this vegetation is not regenerating,  and the strip of roadside vegetation along this  road is gradually lessening as the plants and trees slowly  continue to die. This is common in this part of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. There is no caring for this roadside vegetation. 

What we learn from this is the importance of this land as agriculture and grazing,  and not as country. The land around Waitpinga  is about farmers using the land to make a profit from grazing.   

Country” encompasses an interdependent relationship between an individual and their ancestral lands. 

This reciprocal relationship between the land and people is sustained by the environment and cultural knowledge.This relationship is based on respect: while the land sustains and provides for the people, people manage and sustain the land through culture and ceremony. Dying roadside vegetation amidst agricultural land indicates the death of country. The consequences of land used for agriculture and grazing is that the land is disrespected, damaged or destroyed. It is used but not cared for.