Plant Art from the Amazon: Tree Performance in the Work of Frans Krajcberg
This article examines plant performance in the work of naturalized Brazilian artist Frans Krajcberg (1921-2017). Krajcberg saw his art as a way to give voice to forest plants that are being systematically destroyed through fires and logging, to give way to agribusiness ventures. He used burnt trunks of Amazonian trees he collected after forest fires to create a series of sculptures that denounced the environmental crimes taking place in the region. I resort to biosemiotics, New Materialism and Indigenous, peasant and riverine Amazonian thought as possible theoretical frameworks to interpret Krajcberg's sculptures as a human/plant collaboration that questions species divides and even the boundaries between living and non-living matter. The import of his pieces is clear: the bodies of the dead and charred trees are given a new life in Krajcberg’s work that incorporates them and turns them into art. I argue that his artworks are a fusion between the bare physically of the dead trees that speak to us through their materiality and the artist’s craft. The trees are very clearly inscribed into the sculptures that allow them to speak from beyond their grave, as it were, and to become living symbols of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
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