Tree of Consumption: A Performance in the Round

September 18, 1992
Performance Art

About the Program

Dana Claxton's performance from the First Nations Performance Series.

Mike Hololboom: Tree of Consumption (11:47 minutes 1993) begins with a landscape study, a series of tree tableaus, and then the image itself is cut into pieces which offer us views of a clear cut in an elegant formal rhyme. A woman appears standing in front of a pile of rubble, and then the video lapses into a series of close-up abstractions. Everything is moving and alive and grieving, until at last we see her prone and naked on the ground, as if she has also been cut down. She wears a tree dress made by Kate Smith. Can you talk about this dress and the actions of this performer?

Dana Claxton: The tape was made for a performance called Tree Consumption. It came out of conversations around “unwise logging” and I wanted to make a response. I wondered, “What is it like being a tree?” Instead of a blade of grass. It was either a blade of grass or a tree. I decided to become a tree and Kate Smith made this lovely, long, green dress. In the installation-performance, roots emerged from the dress and led to monitors playing Tree of Consumption. I delivered the narration in fractured Elizabethan English, and spoke about the glamour of clear cutting, which is a forestry practice of harvesting all the trees in a single area. The narration was inspired by a full page ad in the New York Times showing a clear cut and asking, “How can we do this?” I thought, “How glamorous that they are taking out a full page ad in the New York Times!” The work was also about the relationship between violence against women and violence towards Mother Earth.

The footage was re-worked by shooting it off my television several times over. I had a fancy TV that would do all these picture-in-picture effects, creating frames inside frames. I’d re-shoot the original footage using special in-camera features. It looked very high tech when it came out, but it’s all done by playing around with home technology.

Mike Hoolboom, interview with Dana Claxton, 2007


Costume Design: Kate Smith
Music: Russell Wallace
Photography: Merle Addison
Videography: Mike MacDonald
Technical Director: Archer Pechawis


1992.0918 TRE


grunt gallery (first location)
209 E. 6th Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5T 1J8
Unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ/selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations
​​In copyright. For uses beyond Fair Dealing, research requests, corrections, takedown requests, or other inquiries, please contact grunt gallery:

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