January 5th, 2008 - Geneva, Switzerland
The "arbre à palabres" is the baobab tree, or more metaphorically "the talking tree". Traditionally, in western African culture it is the tree beneath which the elders meet to talk, and has over time become a symbol for open and unrestricted communication and the exchange of beautiful ideas.
Pauline Julier's work takes this idea and adapts it to the urban environment. Here is an extract from the description that appeared beneath the work :
"En s'approchant de l'arbre on voit sur les écrans des personnes du quartier, des espaces de l'environnement urbain alentour. On entend une voix, elle raconte une anecdote. Le spectateur cherche quel portrait parle. L'espace privé se mélange alors à l'espace public. L'arbre devient un arbre à palabres, centre des paroles du quartier, nébuleuse virtuelle de paroles et d'images."
While the artists's aim is certainly realised at least partially - unfortunately, on the day I took these pictures, I could barely hear the voice that was speaking high above me - I enjoyed the piece simply for its surreal quality : it's not every day, after all, that one sees a tree full of TV screens.
You may enjoy this large on black.
This picture has been blogged here. Sadly, anonymous comments are not allowed so I can't thank the blogger, Tanja Barnes there - so I'll do it here instead. Thanks !
Both of my images of this installation also feature in Christopher Ming Ryan's wonderfully titled post 30 Evocative Flickr Images to Describe The Impending Death Of TV (April 6th, 2009) on his blog The Way We Watch.
It also features very briefly (at around the 2:54 mark) in a short video here which explains the purpose of Creative Commons licencing.