"A girl touches tombstones in a graveyard. Her hand glides over the letters and carved inscriptions.  Can she read death?   Can she see death? In Ash Tree, the beginning of knowledge - the alphabet - mingles with the end of all knowledge: death."

The first screen provides the setting for the installation: in a single, circular movement the camera embraces two distinct worlds: London’s busy St.Pancras train station and, hidden behind some trees, the more obscure setting of St.Pancras churchyard. In its centre stands Thomas Hardy’s Ash Tree, a monument composed of gravestones clustered around a mighty tree, which is said to have been erected by the poet during his days as an architect’s clerk.As the video shows, a hundred and fifty years later, the tree and train station still coexist.

At the foot of the Ash Tree, dressed in austere black, stands a little girl. Strangely timeless in her appearance, she is reminiscent of another outstanding figure in English literature; the writer Mary Shelly who never attended school and learned to read on her mother’s grave. The girl’s fingers glide along the vanishing burial inscriptions, pronouncing letters, syllables, forming words and consecutively, meaning. Said aloud, the names of the dead trigger the process of memory. The present and past become entangled, forming one single stream of consciousness.The camera’s circular movements underline time’s cyclical pattern.

The Ash Tree’s tombstones are like a landmark onto which the girl climbs and looks out onto the world from above. From this more detached viewpoint, she becomes a mere spectator of the hustling and bustling on the ground. History continues as she watches. Similarly, the poet’s place would be on top of these gravestones, from where he can consider, from a necessary distance, both the living and the dead, the course of time and events, as well as human follies and struggle.

  • Format DVCAM(DVCAM)
  • Color system PAL
  • Color col.
  • Year 2007
  • Duration 00:12:00
  • Artists