A Tree of Life rises from the red soil of Goa. Fashioned from the earth itself, rich with the life forms that have flourished upon it – a powerful symbol of the harmony and balance of the natural order. Complete. Perfect. Diverse cultures have imagined this tree in many beautiful ways throughout human history.
But the natural world today is neither harmonious nor balanced. The earth is dying, its intricate web tattered. Species are disappearing. Forests are falling. Glaciers are melting. Behold again the vibrant diversity of the artists ‘ forms – lovingly crafted birds, fish, crustaceans, fungi, lizards, boars – are they only frozen reminders of what once was? When baked in the kiln’s fire, soft earth will become hard as stone, never to regain it’s life giving abilities. Can one ever retrieve what is lost?
And what of the tree that appears on the reverse? Here the tree is almost a cloud – that seems to hang above a crowded city, like the embodiment of a million dreams and a collective nightmare. The other side of utopia, fashioned from the metallic waste, chemical junk and plastic detritus of our lives. Yet, this dystopia is so bright, so playful. Bubbling with complexity and fun, it makes one laugh. Made of materials we own and understand so well, could this actually be the tree of our life? We may have come from earth, but this is where we choose to reside, don’t we – within finely etched silicon and sharply edged metal?
Utopia and Dystopia – two sides of a spinning coin. Heads or tails? Your call.
Concept and text by Orijit Sen
Public event on 7th January 2015, Wednesday
6.30 p.m., International Student’s Guest House, Goa University.