all began in Reykjavík some time in June. In the dead of night
I planted two small fir-trees in public parks; one on the Miklatún
Park and the other on Öskjuhlí∂ Hill. The gist of
the activity was to reflect on attitudes towards the designed environment.
(Is it important or necessary that there exists an authorative plan
over urban environments ? Is it vandalism to plant trees in public
spaces ?) I was also interested in the attitudes towards the fir as
a symbol for Scandinavian and Central European wilderness ideas in
those of the Icelandic, which essentially evolve around mountains
and open views rather than forest.
The placement of the fir-trees was planned to be unobtrusive at the
moment of the planting, the plantlets being no taller than ca 50 cm,
thus either fitting the surrounding design or at least looking cute,
but as they would grow they would ruin or at least radically change
the existing design of the place.
What I wanted to see above all was how quickly the firs would be removed:
Immediately the following morning? In a week’s time an authorative
gardener having decided it had no right to be there ? Or not at all
Would my firs still be there in 10-15 years time and would I thus
become directly responsible for having ruined a really wonderful park
? And what would happen if I, in attempt to undo the damage, went
back one night and tried to steal back my trees; get arrested for
public vandalism, but contradict the accusations with a receipt from
Blómaval, that it truly is my tree we are dealing with here?
Seriously I expected them to be gone within days, but they weren’t.
Week followed week and my fir babies were still there. I continued
the experiment in Helsinki and Rotterdam planting the trees in different
urban environments with varying results. From the total of eight planted
trees only two remain on location. The others were removed between
a few hours to nine months’ time.