I Am a Tree 2013-2023
I am A Tree is a body of work that was conceived during Bangash's first pregnancy and completed when her first-born was nine years old.
Conceived and created over a ten-year period, is inspired by a chapter from Orhan Pamuk's novel, My Name is Red. The story is narrated by an incomplete drawing of a tree who was lost before being weaved into a book, next to a story. So the drawing of a tree doesn't know which story it belonged to - It’s a story of longing, an expression of a yearning to be a part of a story.
It consists of an Artist book which houses nine paintings and nine drawings of nine trees each displaced from its original painting and story, re-homed in the book creating a new interwoven narrative.
The book is accompanied by a set of nine diptychs of nine different trees sharing the same story. Whether it’s the bergamot tree who lost its Southeast Asian origins and found itself somewhere in Italy and later in English breakfast tea, the Persian orange tree that found itself in Greece, the Chinese mandarin tree that was moved to Europe or the Palestinian olive tree who found itself in Pakistan or turned to ashes by Israeli colonizers - they each have a story to tell one of resilience, strength and longing.
Falling from my story like a leaf falls in fall...
I am a tree and I am quite lonely... They allege that I've been hastily sketched onto non-sized, rough paper so the picture of a tree might hang behind the master story teller. True enough. At this moment, there are no other slender trees beside me, no seven-leaf steppe plants, no dark billowing rock formations which at times resemble Satan or a man and no coiling Chinese clouds. Just the ground, the sky, myself and the horizon. But my story is much more complicated.
The essential reason of my loneliness is that I don't even know where I belong. I was supposed to be part of a story, but I fell from there like a leaf in autumn.
... I know nothing about the page I've fallen from. My Request is that you look at me and ask: "Were you perhaps meant to provide shade to Mejnun disguised as a shepherd as he visited Leyla in her tent?" or "Were you meant to fade into the night, representing the darkness in the soul of a wretched and hopeless man?" How I would have wanted to complement the happiness of two lovers who fled from the whole world, traversing oceans to find solace on an island rich with birds and fruit! I would've wanted to shade Alexander during the final moments of his life on his campaign to conquer Hindustan as he died from persistent nosebleed brought on by sunstroke. Or was I meant to symbolize the strength and wisdom of a father offering advice on love and life to his son? AH, to which story was I meant to add meaning and grace?
I don't want to be a tree, I want to be its meaning.
Extract from My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, letter press printing in collaboration with by Caren Florance during a residency at Australian National University in 2013.