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Filmstills from 16mm film 2014
Time becomes measurable through it´s strange and incomprehensible contamination by space. Axel Erlandson was a Swedish American farmer who shaped trees during his life and eventually opened a Tree Circus in California. A few trees were saved after his death and moved to Gilroy gardens.
In order to film the trees i got the very last rolls of a particular Black and White 16mm film. Each roll last for 3 minutes.
The silent language kept in the tree rings. A slow registering of the sounds and weather waiting to be decipehred intrigued me as much as Axels story. I also found trees in a Kibbutz wich are copies of Axels trees.As a farmer he had observed some natural trees grafts wich gave him the idea to experiment with and train trees to grow in ornamental and pure geometric shapes - rhombohedra, tetrahedron. And here and there he grew enclosures like little buildings
Axel kept what he learned as a precious secret guarded by the cloth wrapped around his creations. Eventually he had grown 70 trees his spot in Scotts Valley. In 1947 the exhibit opened to the public för a small entrance fee. It was advertised with a sign saying see the worlds strangest trees here. Axel was a solitary man whose achievemnt sits like a forgotten manuscript. An unread book of revelations fading into obscurity. Most of his trees are lost. What remains are oral history. Some photographs and a few saved trees (wich were saved by an architect intrested in botanic architecture.) 1963, one year before his death Axel sold Thompson the Tree Circus, his life's work, with over seventy trees. 1983 A bussinessman Michael Bonfante bought several of the trees to be included in his theme park Gilroy Gardens.
Varberg Art Museum. LIFE Magazine 1957. Axel Erlandson