Annette Arlander: Writing letters to Trees with the Trees

This presentation is related to the strand in the sense of being an ”experimental form of writing in artistic research”, with the aim to subtly ”disrupt and displace conventions” and ”queer scholarly writing”, related to ”interests in fictioning and speculative fabulation”. The practice of writing letters to trees by the trees, a form of semi-automatic writing addressed to the tree with the camera as witness, has been developed as part of the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees and explored with various trees in Finnish, Swedish and English. The presentation will include excerpts of videos depicting writing with trees as well as excerpts from the letters.

This presentation proposes the perhaps controversial idea that a thought occurring to the writer while writing next to the tree might be provided by the tree, as their contribution to the conversation. This idea can be understood as a literary gesture or dismissed as pure fantasy, but it could also be seen as a possible solution to the dilemma of communicating with trees. Patricia Vieira proposes “the notion of inscription as a possible bridge over the abyss separating humans from the plant world [because] all beings inscribe themselves in their environment and in the existence in those who surround them.” (Vieira 2017, 217) Following this line of thought, although we could expect the human who writes to the tree to be doing the inscription, we could also see the trees inscribing themselves onto the text, which emerges in the encounter.


Annette Arlander, DA, is an artist, researcher and a pedagogue, one of the pioneers of Finnish performance art and a trailblazer of artistic research. At present she is visiting researcher at Academy of Fine Arts University of the Arts Helsinki with the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees. Her artwork moves between the traditions of performance art, video art and environmental art. See