Tom By: Tom

L'Arbre à Palabres #2

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.

  • Tina Kazakhishvili Canaud 7y

    génial et intéressant, j'aime toutes les 2 , mais je préfère celle-ci.
  • Maria Strauss 7y

    I love this idea...very very cool!
  • Christopher Hall 7y

    Wonderful shot, it really looks like something to see.
  • Copperdog ~ Diane 7y

    yes, this is a very cool idea! Now it would be great to incorporate it into our own communities. I also loved the symbolism of open communication under the trees in Africa. Thank you for sharing this great piece of art work to us.
  • Milena Petrovic 7y

    Wonderful storyteling, Tom. I am amazed !
  • 36metres-carres / Jany H. 7y

    Nice, also during day-time ! I like the black and white with the screens giving some color. I've seen it only at night :-)
  • edouardv66 7y

    C'est aussi sympa de jour :-)
  • Ricardo Falcão 7y

    now we truly have arrived to Big Brother
    if even art is presented having the beautifull tree branches as background...making it impossible to look at them without gama ray interference....
    tv everywhere...
  • laura 7y

    a great art work beautifully captured!!!

    (seen in the 'public art' pool)
  • Justin Penn 7y

    quite conceptual
  • nikaa 7y

    unique !
  • Yannis Gutmann 7y

    oh ... It gets better i see
  • seligr 7y

    Amazing use of a tree. (And an identification with - I have a collection of pieces with the title 'Under the Baobab Tree'.)
  • Lucy 7y

    This is magnificent.. what an incredible, mindbending image. I love the perspective here. Great concept and execution.. oh, yes.
  • why_not ? 7y

    gorgeous!!!! I wish I could see this one day!
  • marya* 7y

    great work amazing !! I wish I could see this one day too!!!!
  • Tanja Barnes 7y

    Hey, it's me Tanja! Sorry, I'm still trying to figure out blogger, so I'll fix the comment issue immediately. Perhaps that is why I haven't received any! Doh!

    I love this photo so much, I used it as my background page on my YouTube profile and I of course attributed you as per your CC license. Thanks again for this great photo!
  • Linh Hanyi 5y

    It's so amazing!
  • Brigitte Roujol 4mo

    Bonjour, j'ai utilisé votre photo pour illustrer un article sur la métaphore de l'arbre aux soucis, outil d'intelligence émotionnelle
    Merci !
36 faves
Taken on January 5, 2008
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