Monday 1 March 2010

Giuseppe Penone tree poetry at Tate Modern

Tonight, my Poetry from Art group of 27 poets will be working in the Giuseppe Penone room at Tate Modern. It's our second week of the spring Poetry from Art course. I call it the Penone room because although there are many other intriguing works in that hub room of the 'Energy & Process' display, it's his Tree of 12 Metres (in two parts) that draws me. I first saw it in the 80's and it left a haunting impression. All last week I have been reading Penone's Writings: 1968 – 2008, a thick cream book with tree thorns on its cover, living in his world, a deeply focused place. There are poems, contemplations, texts, translated from Italian; none are meant to be literature, but they have a cumulative power. He is obsessed by trees and forests, and our relationship to them.

The Tree of 12 Metres in the Tate is carved out of a huge block of an American Larch to reveal its younger self. He has sensed around the knots to reveal earlier branches. The first photo shows his process from another installation elsewhere. Here are some other works of his I've discovered around the web:

Skin of Leaves


Here are two extracts from his Writings:

Tree tuning fork; the ear resting on the trunk of a tree
to hear its years of growth, to hear the noise of the wind
that runs in the branches, in the trunk, in the roots down into the earth.
Resting the ear and striking the trunk of a tree.
Each species of tree a sound, each day of the tree a different sound,
a sound of summer, a sound of autumn, every season a sound, every day
a sound depending on the heat, the cold, the dryness, the water in the air.
Propagation of the sound, propagation of the wood,
roundness of the sound, roundness of the tree.
On the fingertips the drawing of the sound.


Eye, axil of the leaf.
Tree, eye of the earth, trap of light, glance of leaves.
The sphere of light, the sphere of the eye, the sphere of the tree.
The eye full of light.
The thrust of the tree in the light of summer.
The pressure of light leaves imprints of leaves on the eyes.
Crystal, light of the earth that transports thought.
Marble, bone of the earth.
Calcium, thought of stone.
Brain of crystal.
Flute of vertebrae.
Back of glass.
The tree of vertebrae.

Last week we worked in the Joseph Beuys room in 'Poetry & Dream', sitting between The Pack and Lightning with Stag in Its Glare. Poems from that session are streaming in. I will have more time to study them next week when my schedule isn't so hectic, but I'm very excited about them. Next week we'll look at Robert Therrien's Red Room, the week after, at the new Arshile Gorky exhibition.