‘The Bones’ is a solo show by Dries Segers about unknown border trees, nail trees, some insects competing with each other and a study room.
Border trees are trees planted on specific locations in the landscape to mark borders between properties and make them visible from afar. These trees are located on maps and are subject to specific laws. Since 2019, Segers has been searching for these unknown types of trees and tries to make them known again. In ‘The Bones’, the artist shows three trees that cannot be found in the administration of Belgium: though they were once a border tree, the border was moved and the trees became hidden elements in the landscape again.
When you think about border trees, you discuss territories, politics, crises, botanical species, animals ,… These trees are not just wood; the natural world does not follow manmade islands. Fungi make up an enormous network that stretches beyond any kind of border as a ‘wood wide web’, pollinators work wherever they find a flower from which to take pollen, birds migrate around the globe navigating it as a whole and not as a (flexible) puzzle of fragments. In a changing and unstable climate, the idea of border trees gives us the opportunity to reintroduce a local and community driven use of the landscape; they can help us learn from the stories and information imbued in these landmarks.
Nail trees are trees you can go to and ask for a healing, in a tradition that is as old as humans. This form of tree worship comes from the belief that a tree is the connection between Earth and the gods, between the roots and the crown of the tree. By hammering a piece of textile into the tree, it will absorb all the pain and heal the person who was touched by the fabric. The trees used for this tradition are mostly oaks. Nail trees are part of the religion of the Celts, where elements of the landscape such as plants and trees but also animals were thought of as gods. The catholic church tried to claim these pagan beliefs, which explains why you find little saints or chapels next to these pilgrimage locations. In Belgium, Segers found 2 actively used nail trees, and even met someone who was asking for a healing process.
Finally, the study room ‘Structure for seeds, mouths and big big ears’ is an adjustable wooden structure were books, videos and audio are joined to make a connection to the exhibition and the visitor. The structure is shown here for the first time, and will afterwards be adapted to other locations.