De-Scroll

The work explores ‘text’ inscribed on a specific eucalyptus tree located in a valley in Malta. This appears to be the only tree with ‘text’ inscribed all over its bark probably due to its accessibility and proximity to the main foot path.


The smooth wide trunk appears to invite strollers to incise their messages and to celebrate their presence within the valley. Like a book; the aged eucalyptus imbricates the story of the place with the stories of its visitors. In De Certeau’s (1984) words ‘[r]eading frees itself from the soil that determined it. It detaches itself from that soil’. Bark layers are like palimpsests - repositories of ‘text’ accumulated over a period of time. In this case natural and cultural ‘texts’ were juxtaposed together. The material is intriguing – fragile, textured, stained and leathery. Bark is mundane and rich, soft and brittle, moist and dry, light and dark. The more I held it in my hands and looked hard at it the more it appeared to gain the ability to communicate.

Scroll sculptures vary from one piece to the next; many have a smooth texture, others are rougher, more elaborate or seem better ‘preserved’. A number of bark scrolls appear to be more loaded with ‘text’; others are leaner. Various sculptures bear traces of stains, as if they had been buried or ensconced somewhere deep beneath the ground for ages. The peeling crust and the cracks in the bark appear to reveal further layers of ‘text’. Deleuze and Guattari associate trees with linearity and striations, ‘[w]e’re tired of trees’ they utter (2004). De-Scroll allowed the rhizome to emerge from the tree. For Deleuze and Guattari ‘there exist tree or root structures in rhizomes; conversely, a tree branch or root division may begin to burgeon into a rhizome’ (200). ‘To be rhizomorphous is to produce stems and filaments that seem to be roots, or better yet connect with them by penetrating the trunk, but put them to strange new uses’ (2004). De-Scroll created a smooth space that allowed ‘text’ to move in all directions. The work mirrored the valley; it imbricated multiple possibilities, streams, flows, connections and variations.  

De-Scroll installation at the National Library in Valleta, Malta (2015).

The installation occupied all the antique display cases in the main reading hall. Enclosed behind glass, reflecting rows of bookshelves that reach up to the ceiling, the scrolls appeared ‘in place’.

 

© Trevor Borg | trvborg@gmail.com | +00356 79403808