Arbol ahorcado (The Hanged Tree)

Arbol ahorcado (The Hanged Tree)


A performance for Ciudad Bolivar.

Arbol ahorcado (The Hanged Tree) was created to honor a promise I made in Ciudad Bolivar, Bogota - Colombia. The promise was to return to the U.S. and tell a story from Colombia.

The story is about a tree in Ciudad Bolivar, a tree where someone was hanged to intimidate a barrio. The barrio has re-claimed itself; is home to a healthy, vibrant neighborhood, full of services for its community members. But there, still, sits that tree. Arbol ahorcado was created to both preserve the cultural memory of the tragedy that took place there and as a visual symbol of the barrio's transformation.

A photograph of the 'Hanged Tree' in Ciudad Bolivar is projected onto the wall and a drawing on transparent vellum referenced from "Sandro Botticelli Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy" is hung next to the tree projection.

The Hanging Tree

There is a soundtrack playing during the performance. The soundtrack is 14 songs about hanging trees, with variations of "Strange Fruit" repeated four times. The soundtrack is approximately one hour long and is looped during the performance.

I place small hearts cut from military uniforms donated by the organization 'Iraq Veterans Against the War' into a shape that echoes the shadow of the tree's bare branches.

Once I complete the tree shape, the audience begins to exchange the plain camouflage hearts for other camouflage ones that have been hand-printed with a red heart in the center. The tree that inspired the performance is a eucalyptus tree and the blocks for printing the red hearts are cut from eucalyptus wood. The audience is invited to stamp the red hearts themselves or use hearts that have already been printed.

At sunset, tea light candles are placed among the hearts that form the tree shape and lit. The soundtrack is stopped after all the candles are lit. At dark, 38 slide projections of drawings of hanging figures are projected onto the ground or floor one at a time.

The performance ends when the candles burn out.

In a display of transformation, the shadowed reflection of a Hanging Tree, Arbol ahorcado, is surrounded and filled with images, illumination, and heart shaped patches cut from US military uniforms worn in Iraq. Please feel free to participate by cutting, stamping and placing the hearts. With our actions and intention here today, we send this anti-­militant support, and a wave of love, reinforcing the desire for peace, not only for the people of Ciudad Bolivar, but to all those affected by acts of intimidation, oppression, and strife, throughout the world. 

- Tammy Bohn

Special thanks to Tammy Bohn and Malachi Muncy.

The playlist for Arbol ahorcado was created by Tammy Bohn.

Arbol ahorcado was photographed by Karyn E, Tammy Bohn, and Mia Pearl Leighty and filmed by Alice April.

Rehearsals for Arbol ahorcado were photographed by Marianne Evans-Lombe. Button