We The Trees

Bringing together a community of artists, botanists, and philosophers, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain echoes the latest scientific research that sheds new light on trees. The exhibition “We The Trees” can be seen in Paris until 10 November 2019.

Calle 11, We the Trees
Légende by Johanna Calle Sangregado, série Perímetros, 2014, Texte dactylographié sur papier notarial ancien, 332 × 332 cm Archives Pérez & Calle, Bogotà © Johanna Calle

News of forest clearances reporting alarming figures of millions of hectares are increasingly common. On top of that, fires turn vast forest areas to dust within days. The number of trees that get cut down worldwide is larger than those that grow back. However, forests with trees that are often hundreds of years old are tremendously important for humans. They supply the oxygen we breathe and absorb the carbon dioxide we produce.

The appreciation of the tree

The exhibition “We the trees” at the Fondation Cartier in Paris focuses on the importance of trees and their essential meaning for humans by making them the central theme of the exhibition. The special features, ingenuity and biological world of these fantastic living organisms is emphasised through various media. The focus is on the relationship between humans and trees.

Individual expression

The exhibition consists of a compilation of individual works by different artists. The artists express the meaning of trees in specific ways through films, photographs, sound installations, scientific illustrations, documentaries and paintings. Botanist Stefano Manusco, for instance, created a sound installation together with Thijs Biersteker to showcase the environment’s effects on trees. The artists furthermore disclose trees’ hidden abilities and make them audible and visible through their installation.

In the drawings by the botanist Francis Hallé, art and scientific precision blend together to create a new, informative and yet fascinating work of art. Films by Raymond Depardon as well as Paz Encina centre on the relationship between humans and trees.

Francis HallÇ-Sophira Japonica-Jardin Fondation Cartier
Francis Hallé: Sophora Japonica couvert de lierre, Jardin de la Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, 2019, © Francis Hallé © Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain

On a scientific, biological and artistic level, the complex exhibition indicates that trees are meaningful not only for the environment, but also for technology. It demonstrates the beauty and aesthetics of trees and draws attention to current events and devastation threatening trees.