Strange Strangers

Midsummer night encounters with strange strangers in the Scandinavian forests.
This is a short version of the video shown as part of an installation at Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore.

MacRitchie Me

My journeys into MacRitchie, Singapore's wild forest, became a journey into my own perception of nature - and the deeper into the wild I went, the stranger everything became.
In an attempt to adapt to the forest and the strange strangers I encountered on my way, I designed new clothes, and soon I became a stranger to myself.

In Pursuit of Wildness

Finding wilderness is a challenge these days, but finding wildness is possible anywhere. 
On International Day of Forests 2016 I found wildness in the central part of Singapore at LaSalle College of the Arts setting up my self-made tent called House of Wild Wood Woman. For the day I was immersed in the big, lush tropical forest.
Never stop dreaming :-)


DipteroWhat? This was my question, when I initially came across the words Dipterocarpus and Keruing on a field trip with Nature Society Singapore (NSS) a year ago. The words were spoken by Dr Shawn Lum, president of NSS, who guided the trip in MacRitchie Nature Reserve. He had found a big fallen leaf on the forest floor and talked vividly about this leaf as being an indicator of primary forest, i.e. a forest that is relatively untouched and unlogged by humans. The leaf belonged to the majestic dipterocarp trees, whose seedlings and saplings can only thrive in the shadowy primary rain forests.

"DipteroWhat?", a handmade zine by Who Cares? for Singapore Art Book Fair 2014 hosted by Squelch Zines 

I had recently relocated from the decidious forests of Scandinavia to the tropical rainforest of Singapore and knew very little about trees from this part of the world. But I was hooked from the moment Dr Shawn Lum talked about this kind of tropical trees as being the defining trees of the original rainforest in Singapore and tropical Southeast Asia. The dipterocarp forests are the tallest and most diverse rainforests in the world and once proudly stood where now stand shopping centers, factories, housing estates and endless palm oil plantations. Many of the 500 different species of the Dipterocarpaceae family are endangered due to extensive illegal logging.

I wanted to know more and was happy for an opportunity to stay focused in the midst of the overwhelming diverse tropical rainforest.
During the last year I have spend much time in the forests of particularly Singapore, but also Borneo and Malaysia. I am collecting personal notes using botanical studies, photography, video recordings, intuitive ink brush paintings etc. I read books and articles and I use all my meditative energy to become one-become two-become-TREE in order to try to grasp the phenomenon of dipterocarps.  
Thanks to botanist Joseph Lai, who is so passionate about MacRitchie and kindly has taught me a lot and pointed out many dipterocarps, and thanks to LoveMacRitchie and Toddycats for their highly informative and interesting field trips.

For now, I have made a handmade collection of notes for Singapore Art Book Fair 2014 (thanks to Squelch Zines for hosting), but the work is still in progress, and my quest(ion) is as ever: DipteroWHAT?

Explorer of the World

There is an English phrase called “Don’t bury your head in the sand” whose equivalent in Danish is: “You should not hide your head in the bush”. It means: Don’t try to avoid reality  - try instead to face life and it’s challenges up front, i.e. GET REAL!
I have never been a strong believer of Truth or REALITY anyway, so it doesn’t cause me any second thoughts to bury my head in any bush or hedge I might pass. In fact I will strongly recommend this noble activity. You never know what might happen. And there are plenty of things to discover in there in the UNREAL: 

Or why not jump all they way in and sit there quietly and enjoy the world:

Magic Mirror on the (Green) Wall, what is Greenery at all?

I live HERE:

which is here:

which is here:

which is here:

which is in Singapore (the walls are at Ocean Financial Centre, Singapore).

These green walls are covering a total area of 2,125.56 sqm. and is the largest vertical garden in the worldOcean Financial Centre recently won an Excellence Award in Skyrise Greenery Awards 2013.

Singapore is indeed a very green city. There is plenty of urban greenery, like the hotel Park Royal on Pickering:

see how it looks from the top.

Or take a look at some of the newly built suburban highrises - btw called The Tree House.

Here are some pics from the central shopping area of Singapore (YES, I said shopping areas believe it or not):

I love when urbanity is combined with everything green. The more the merrier. 
And Singapore is definitely much greener than most cities, which is due to a  vision put forward by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew way back in 1968, just after Singapore's independence. He envisioned and carried through the idea of Singapore as a Garden City in order to integrate the environment with urban development and soften the effects of a concrete jungle. 
Today the vision has gone further and is called Singapore - a city in a garden.

But man made greenery is somehow always predictable, always in patterns, in shapes and even lines. No man made greenery in Singapore (or anywhere else) can replace the country's true jewels: the last remaining primary forests in MacRitchie and Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. It is here that we have a chance to indulge in the luxury of a lushness that includes decay and "disorder" - the last remains of something that has been let alone by man - something OTHER - and yet something US.
This kind of greenery asks for one action only: NO action, i.e. hands off the chain saws and instead, relax and enjoy:

In your Dreams

Is this vision or delusion? 
I got the answer when the tree above was cut down shortly after this photo was taken. It was somehow in the way for the cranes and heavy construction machines despite being located "safely" outside the construction site.
So much for your dreams, Singapore!

Hello great great great . . . grand mother!

I found this leave in Bali. I don't know its name or where it comes from, but I have a feeling we are related and share the same great great great … (how many?) … grand mother.

Teach Me Tiger

We love wild things and everything wild, but do we really dare to embrace it? And do we want it? Or should it rather be stuffed behind glass or securely (dis)placed in zoos? It seems like our own wildness is so suppressed these days, that it is forced to express itself in other ways, e.g. today's fashion dictates "wild cats" in fabric print, shoes, clothes etc.
Here is a selection from my wardrobe set free for a while in the Singaporean jungle:

However, I must admit, I was really pleased, when I recently became aware that there is some kind of wildness left in the nearby, where I currently live. The Malayan tiger and other magnificent animals have been captured by one of Rimba's photo traps in Kenyir Wildlife Corridor, Terengganu, West Malaysia. - "Dear Tiger. Did you say "cheese"?" I hope not, but rather: "Meeeeeeeeeaaat".
Can we please have some more tigers and wild animals in the forests (and some more forests to accommodate them)? Then we don't have to constantly compensate with various superimposed, wildly tame disguises!
"In wildness is the preservation of the world" (from Henry David Thoreau's: "Walking".

Photos: top: from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve's Visitor Centre, bottom: Rimba.

Dr. Wild Wood Woman, I presume?

When you come from the cold temperate Northern Europe and relocate to such a different environment like tropical Southeast Asia, you can either continue communicating in your usual manner, now with a tropical twist, or you can choose to keep quiet for a period, while you acquire new skills and languages. I chose the latter - or rather it chose me.
Now after a year, I am still a beginner in tropical flora and fauna as well as in Chinese and tai chi. The Chinese character for "forest" might as well mean "sewing machine", in tai chi I 
have learned up to "the snake" in the 24-form, and I am now able to recognize and name 5 tropical plants, all trees.
But nevertheless I can't keep quiet any longer, so please accept my apologies for any future tropical nonsense.