The Symbiosis Between Trees and New People

By Ludovico Del Vecchio and Francesco Ferrini

Habla – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #160 (2008) by Cristina LucasLa Galleria Nazionale

The exhibition Caring for a burning world renews the issue of a seriously endangered, overheated and polluted planet. This is happening because of mankind’s catastrophic behaviour, so reckless as to destroy his own home, the Earth, Planet A, the only one we have.

Perímetros (Nogal Andino) – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #023 (2012) by Johanna CalleLa Galleria Nazionale

It is happening because of misuse of fossil fuels that disproportionately increase the share of climate-altering gases ('greenhouse effect' and 'rising temperatures'), because of the systematic destruction of forests (vital green lungs that produce oxygen and capture carbon dioxide), and because of our inability to rapidly replace plastic with existing alternative materials: plastic is everywhere, in the seas, rivers, in our precious soil and even inside our own bodies.

Bilico – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #130 (1995) by Andrea SantarlasciLa Galleria Nazionale

An epic disaster, the life we have always known is being pushed to the brink, paving the way for the possible end of Homo sapiens and millions of other interconnected living species, animals and plants, and the destruction of biodiversity.

João Pereira de Araújo, Taquari District, Rio Branco, Brazil. March 2015 – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #011 (2015) by Gideon MendelLa Galleria Nazionale

The loss of biodiversity is the fundamental problem, the vexata quaestio: biodiversity is a word on everyone's lips, yet never enough is done to protect this biodiversity.

Rio Negro e Solimões – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #029 (2019) by Alex CervenyLa Galleria Nazionale

We deplete the planet's resources more and more rapidly, constantly destroying the world's variety of life, that concatenation of millions of species all interconnected and indispensable to each other. Meanwhile, in 2022, it was as if Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that the planet regenerates over 365 days, had already happened by 28 July.

Cecylia Malik, photo series – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #136 (2017/2022) by Cecylia MalikLa Galleria Nazionale

It is no longer just a stock phrase, protecting biodiversity has become fundamental, first and foremost for us. Mother Nature is diverse; she takes everyone under her wing, but she sustains herself through infinite differences and continuous adaptation to changing conditions.

Installation View – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #018 (2022)La Galleria Nazionale

However, evolution towards a new balance is only possible if environmental change is not sudden and devastating – the exact opposite of what is happening now. Heralded in by the Second Industrial Revolution, which started in 1870, acceleration has taken place over the last fifty years.

Kronos – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #069 (2018) by Renata BoeroLa Galleria Nazionale

We have ended up without realising it or, more precisely, by not caring at all, in the middle of the Anthropocene, that unique geological era where a single species is threatening the right to existence of all others, animal and plant. Mammals, birds, vertebrates and invertebrates are becoming extinct at breakneck speed, and, perhaps even more distressingly, thousands and thousands of plant organisms, from the tiniest right up to the biggest trees, are disappearing in dramatic silence and with far less media resonance.

Angry Birds of America - Yellow Finch – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #117 (2018) by Ida ApplebroogLa Galleria Nazionale

Trees. Trees are mercilessly cut down, ruined by pruning, suffocated by asphalt along pavements and roads, by pipes and pollutant spills. They are felled by gigantic machines that destroy entire portions of precious forest in the blink of an eye, when there is no more important organism, to be protected at all costs for the good health of the planet, than a tree.

Plastic Bottles – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #071 (2007) by Chris JordanLa Galleria Nazionale

Appearing some 400 million years ago, themselves evolving during the various geological eras, (sometimes they are real living fossils, such as the almost indestructible Ginkgo biloba, able to withstand the atomic bomb of Hiroshima), trees have become increasingly perfect and efficient, preparing the way for the existence of all the organisms that crowd the Earth today.

E Pluribus unum, detail – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #003 (2010) by Chris JordanLa Galleria Nazionale

Algae in the oceans and other plants produce precious oxygen, but nothing surpasses the tree in its extraordinary capacity to create liveable environments, provide shelter for animals, and other plants, and to protect the soil from runoff and drying out and even improve it.

Primate – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #032 (2009) by Daphne WrightLa Galleria Nazionale

In the city, the green giants (oaks, plane trees, linden trees, and many others) exert their superpowers to the fullest extent: besides effectively combating conglomerations of urban heat, they capture particulate pollutants, reduce the battering effect of rain, improve people's psychophysical health by reducing healthcare costs, reduce crime in well-tree-lined neighbourhoods, and increase the value of property where there is good public and private greenery.

Installation View – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #017 (2022)La Galleria Nazionale

Like water, green is a precious commodity; it is such a profitable financial investment that it should be distributed fairly in the megacities where 70 per cent of the world's population will be living after 2050. Green ‘gold’ must therefore be wisely sown in cities, with a view to social justice and peaceful and better coexistence.

Bangers – HOT SPOT – Caring For a Burning World #022 (2021) by Rachel YounLa Galleria Nazionale

Gentrification, the forced displacement of entire populations from neighbourhoods that have become too upmarket and therefore unaffordable, can also be caused by poorly planned investment in green areas. The most famous example is New York's High Line, the inspired transformation of a disused public transport overpass into an elevated park, so successful and popular that it has seen property values in the area skyrocket.

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