The Tree of Life, a sculpture. Different sized gun barrels, butts and magazines, triggers, trigger guards and even complete pistols are transformed into the bark of a tree. Sliced, opened out and flattened metal sections from gun barrels and magazines become leaves, making up the thick foliage of this tree. This is how dismantled, chopped off weapons are made unusable for its original functions and exhibited as artworks in museums. The Tree of Life, commissioned by the British Museum and created in 2004 in Mozambique to commemorate peace, is the first object we bring to you, inviting you to share it with us, to observe and to appreciate it, and – why not? – share it with others.
In our opinion, this is an interesting, complex, strangely beautiful and thought-provoking sculpture. It is a particularly fascinating artwork, not only due to the nature of the object itself, but also owing to the project behind its creation, on which we will concentrate in future posts. Another relevant aspect of this sculpture is that it tells the (hi)story of the country in which it was created – Mozambique, where it was firstly displayed and... touched in the Peace Park, Maputo. It is now on permanent exhibition at the British Museum as one of its most cherished exhibits.
In fact, as a result of the present need of Western museums, art galleries and temporary exhibitions to meet the demands of 21st century audiences, a closer interaction between viewers and artworks is being encouraged as part of their objectives. By adopting innovative approaches promoting the use of other senses rather than merely sight, these Western display institutions are introducing an interactivity common to practices which have long been performed in Africa, namely that of touching art.
In our opinion, this is the kind of artwork that is not only touching, but which also invites us to look at it, and also to touch it, to feel the different guns that have been used to build it and to interact more intimately with it.
A good example of touching art.