Talking to Trees

Trees are paradoxical, fascinating living beings, whose singularity we humans largely neglect - trees (and plants in general) are just "there", a silent and inert part of the "landscape", as "background". Nothing could be more wrong. Last year (2021), amid the ongoing pandemic and dealing with the traumatic experience of going through lockdowns, curfews, reduced human contact and almost no travelling, I found solace in trees and their silent company. Away from fellow humans, I started to notice the trees around me, and to develop a relationship with each individual tree over time, learning to identify their species and their scientific names, observing them change with the seasons. Trees provided aesthetic pleasure and healthy benefits and, in the absence of sociability, attentive, discrete ears. In return for their generosity, I took their portraits.

The project was developed in Greece, where I live, and most portraits were taken in the area where I am based, the Thermaikos Gulf, including the city of Thessaloniki and its surroundings. To the portraits, I added the text of my conversations - mostly complaints, sorrows, unfulfilled wishes. Like small prayers, they were often a way to say the unsayable. Ultimately, it is my tiny contribution to raising ecological awareness (after raising my own), and to call on everyone to act and demand action against climate change - trees are our best allies, our closest companion species in this.

I must add that my last surname, Oliveira, is the Portuguese word for "olive tree".

100 portraits, with text