Leur Existence – Tree Project
The Horticultural Society of New York
December 9, 2009 – February 12, 2010
Leur Existence – Tree Project is the culmination of the four-year process of collecting and distributing seeds from hibaku trees in Hiroshima, and the network of people that formed as a result. Tree Project featured hibaku plants, loaned by NYC-area participants, as well as photographic and written documentation of the process. A selection of the plants were presented in ceramic elephant-foot pots, designed and created by the artist.
Over 60 years ago, the city of Hiroshima was decimated by one nuclear bomb and it was assumed that nothing would grow in that soil for 75 years. Miraculously, within two months of the bombing, new buds began to appear from the remains of burnt trees. These trees, which still live from the time of the atomic bombing, are called hibaku trees. In Japan, the story of the hibaku trees took on legendary status and gave encouragement to those who had lost hope after the war.
In 2005, in collaboration with the city of Hiroshima, Sunairi collected branches from pruned hibaku trees to create a sculpture of an elephant lying on its side. Since then, Sunairi has been receiving seedlings and seeds of second and third generation hibaku trees from Riki Horiguchi, a tree doctor in Hiroshima. For this exhibition, seeds of Round Leaf Holly, Persimmon, Chinaberry, Chinese Parasol, Japanese Hackberry, Jujube and Platanus were distributed to nearly 400 participants in 23 countries. Up to thirty participants loaned their plants to be on view for the exhibition.