Upright Drum In Water

Pieter Geenen

Protagonist in Upright Drum In Water is the age-old Montezuma cypress or ahuehuete* (Taxodium mucronatum) ‘El Sargento’ in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, which is believed to be planted around the year 1460, in pre-colonial times. To many native people of Mexico this species is sacred, and associated with authority. In 1910 it became the country’s national tree. But due to heavy drought and pollution it is considered dead since 1969. However, as a symbol this tree lives on, deeply rooted in the centuries of history and memory it represents. But what do we remember? And how is this memory manipulated? What is dead or alive? Upright Drum In Water is built up from a collection of footage which was recorded repeatedly at the same moment of day during an artist-in-residence period of 6 weeks. Each time the tree was captured from the same angle, but with different types of cameras and lenses, intertwining the own personal memory with the memory and identity of a nation.

(*) Nahuatl; metaphorically extended meaning: “upright drum in water”.