About Trees by Katie Holten

September, 2016 

ISBN: 978-3-943196-30-6

Edition: 2000, 256 pages, softcover, dust jacket, pantone spot colour, fore-edge printing 

Design: FUK Design Studio, Berlin

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Broken Dimanche Press is delighted to announce Katie Holten’s book About Trees. It is the first in BDP’s project Parapoetics: A Literature Beyond the Human.

The Anthropocene forces us to revise grammatical categories and experiment with alternative modes of representation within a 'we' of monstrous planetary proportions. It forces the questions: Who speaks, and on behalf of whom? How does the non-human articulate itself, and how do we identify such articulations? – Ida Bencke, Editor, BDP.

"About Trees is strange, surprising, mysterious, and true. Holten has managed to put together an anthology that's far more than the sum of its parts: this is as much an evocation of the spirit of trees as it is a collection of texts on the subject. It's a book/work of art. It's also gorgeous. I adore it."

—Daniel Smith, author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

"It is essentially an edited compilation of texts about, yes, trees, but also about forests, landscapes of the anthropocene, unkempt wildness, altered ecosystems, and, more broadly speaking, the idea of nature itself."

—Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG

"If literature is looking for a way forward in the Anthropocene, surely this is a place from which to start."

—Stephen Sparks, The Improbable"

 

The book includes texts and artwork by a stellar line up of contributors:

Jorge Luis Borges Andrea Bowers Inger Christensen William Corwin Charles Darwin Nicole Davi Tacita Dean Åse Eg Brian J. Enquist Amy Franceschini Futurefarmers Charles Gaines James Gleick Fritz Haeg Amy Harmon César A. Hidalgo Natalie Jeremijenko Franz Kafka Paul Klee Eduardo Kohn Elizabeth Kolbert Irene Kopelman Prem Krishnamurthy Ursula K. Le Guin Ada Lovelace Lucretius Robert Macfarlane E.J. McAdams Susan McKeown Agnes Martin Roz Naylor Arianna Occhipinti Conny Olsson Katie Paterson Plato Thomas Princen Radiohead Colin Renfrew Pedro Reyes Zadie Smith Anna-Sophie Springer Robert Sullivan Rachel Sussman Extinction Symbol Nicola Twilley Jules Verne Gaia Vince Aengus Woods Andrea Zittel

Holten was artist in residence at Büro BDP during the book's production. While working on the book she created an alphabet and used it to make a new typeface called Trees. She also made a series of limited edition offset prints based on her Tree Drawings.

LIMITED EDITION PRINTS: More info and orders available here. (Almost sold out)

Katie Holten was born in Ireland and studied at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, the Hochschule der Kunst, Berlin, and Cornell University, New York. In 2003 she represented Ireland at the 50th Venice Biennale. She has had solo museum exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art (2012); The Hugh Lane, Dublin (2010); Bronx Museum, New York (2009); Villa Merkel, Esslingen (2008); Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2008) and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2007). Deeply committed to social causes, especially as they pertain to environmental issues, Katie makes drawings, installations, public artworks and ephemeral actions that function as poetic alterations to the everyday. She often works on site to explore the history, ecology, and other invisible aspects of an environment. At the root of her practice lies a fascination with the contingency of life's systems and the inextricable relationship between man and nature in the age of the Anthropocene. Katie Holten is represented by VAN HORN, Düsseldorf.

This project evolved from the group exhibition About Trees at Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland, October 17 – January 24, 2016.

Press:

"If literature is looking for a way forward in the Anthropocene, surely this is a place from which to start."
—Stephen Sparks, The Improbable

"About Trees is strange, surprising, mysterious, and true. Holten has managed to put together an anthology that's far more than the sum of its parts: this is as much an evocation of the spirit of trees as it is a collection of texts on the subject. It's a book/work of art. It's also gorgeous. I adore it."
—Daniel Smith, author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

"Gently reaching, beautiful, bountiful—Katie Holten's About Treestranslates pulp and ink into a new language of roots and branches, a bewildering, awilding forest of words as strange as it is unforgettable. Learning to live in the Anthropocene means learning to see, listen to, and speak with our world in whole new ways; About Trees helps us begin that transformation."
—Roy Scranton, author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

"It is essentially an edited compilation of texts about, yes, trees, but also about forests, landscapes of the anthropocene, unkempt wildness, altered ecosystems, and, more broadly speaking, the idea of nature itself."
—Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG

"A work of art, About Trees offers new and vital considerations for the contemporary moment. About Trees rewards readers for taking time to slow down and engage."
—Jamie Kruse, co-editor, Making the Geologic Now

About About Trees

Ida Bencke

Katie Holten's book About Trees is a recycling of texts about trees, a testimony to the significance of trees in Western thinking, and a survey into the myriad of ways trees have come to matter. The word 'matter' is itself indicative of the questions at stake: the etymological roots bearing witness to a tension between material and meaning. The latin 'materia' brings the wooden connotation to the table via its reference to 'timber', but the word also carries the stem of a mother: the latin māter, in the sense of 'source' or the 'subject of discourse'. The word 'matter', thus, itself a mongrel, a conglomerate of physical material and semiotic mattering; a privileged locus for thinking about how matter comes to matter to certain someones at certain sometimes.

About Trees is a book about the various material-semiotic reversals and reverberations through which we become Human by gaining knowledge about – and ascribing meaning to – the significant others that inhabit this earth with us. It is also an investigation into the otherness of trees that attempts to surpass the linguistic domestications of naming. In About Trees, Holten reverses a conventional process by which human, symbolic language runs from thing to idea via word by translating each text into a cryptic tree-font created by the artist. The texts are thus accompanied by their own translation into figural matter(ing), a dense forest of encoded meaning, language turned back upon itself, as it were, by (re)turning letters to a pictographic field, exploring the fantasy about a linguistic infancy of some sort in which matter and mattering are yet to be separated.

About Trees is an archive of human self-projection onto trees, but it is also a reminder about the deep echoes of forests, of timber and matter in all of our discursive efforts, a memento of the aborescent roots of every book: that each piece of printed matter once was wood.

About Trees traces a shift in consciousness from anthropocentric humanist enlightenment to the posthuman efforts of contemporary thinking about and with the Anthropocene. The book maps the ontological move from Darwin's Tree of Life – in which an 'I think' hovers over the figure of evolution as a quasi-divine, sovereign human consciousness on the highest possible step of evolution – to Eduardo Kohn’s How Forests Think, an anthropology beyond the human that allows us to think through the prism of a trans-human semiosphere in which all living matter perpetually thinks and represents the world.