If you’ve never been tempted to hug a tree, then performance artist Marina Abramovic has some advice that might just change your mind. Next time you pass a tree, Abramovic recommends unleashing your complaints on the patient companion — for at least 15 minutes. This could be how we bid farewell to a difficult 2020.
The artist will share “the Abramovic Method” — a technique for staying rooted in the present moment — as part of a five-hour TV programme on 5 December on British channel Sky Arts.
An exclusive clip from the show, shared by The Arts Newspaper, features Abramovic making use of trees as a natural captive audience. “Trees are like human beings,” the artist says in the trailer. “They have intelligence; they have feelings. They communicate with each other and also they are perfectly silent listeners. You can complain to them.”
The 74-year-old says she was inspired by the dances of indigeneous people in the Amazon with old sequoia trees. “These dances were so moving and emotional that I said wow, why don’t I create an exercise that really works for me? So I’ve created this exercise as part of the Abramovic method: complaining to the tree.”
For those keen to find their own botanical buddy, Abramovic provides detailed instructions: “This is my message to the public: please go to the park near you. Pick the tree you like. Hold the tree tight. Really tight. And just pour your heart into it. Complain to the tree for a minimum of 15 minutes. It’s the best healing that you can do,” the artist adds.
Not any tree will do, however. Don’t just go after looks only, Abramovic insists — you will need to have a real connection with your hardwood helper. “Pick the tree because of its smell, the bark, the leaves. Whatever triggers your affection,” she says. If this reminds you of dating advice, you may find consolation in the fact that, at least, the tree can never reject you.