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I remember I am (was) tree

I dig my hands onto the roots of a fallen tree, standing on the stream that runs by it. I feel the damp clay sticking to my fingers as I stroke the stems coming out of the earth. I inhale deeply, holding a gray lump below my nostrils. It smells like a memory. It feels like a memory. A memory embedded in my body so deeply I have no words to decode it in my brain. I believe this memory is not personal, but collective; not individual, but ancestral.


Trees, water and clay are primal companions of human life. A triad whose existence we have taken for granted, whose gifts we have not revered. Industrial waste seeps into the waters we drink; pesticides soak up the earth we sow; paper rolls became the afterlife of trees. But we cannot see the truth when all those gifts are now boxed, labeled and advertised in endless supermarket shelves. We are trained consumers of this big theater where everything we want is within the reach of a credit card. Where what we consume is made so far from where we live, we forget we are still all living in the same world.


The same world. That sticks to my brain as I access that memory. I remember the lump of clay clinging to my finger. Or was it my finger clinging to the clay? I reached both hands inside those roots, digging into the gray, damp earth. I no longer felt my hands, so I delved with my arms. The stream gently on my feet was rising fast up to my knees, my thighs, my hips. I did not feel the water, I was water. My arms had no bones and flesh, but wood and bark. My torso was still organic, it was clay. What I remembered was no longer a memory. It was the feel of an elemental truth; collective and ancestral. All I am has no beginning and no end. Trees, water, clay and me are endlessly expanding as one, same world.

Part of Intercultural Earth Practices exhibition in Helsinki. 2022.

Helsinki, 2022.

Ceramic and clay installation.

by Taísa Helena.

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