Brakfesten – La Grande Bouffe (2022)
by Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Pauline Doutreluingne
HD film, 28min14, sound
Brakfesten / La Grande Bouffe zooms into a symbiotic ecosystem, and consists out of a public sculpture in the forest, which grew over several months and became simultaneously the film set for the macro film Brakfesten – The Grande Bouffe, as the final step of the project.
The project takes reference to the cult film La Grande Bouffe, a 1973 satirical film, which centers on a group of friends who plan to eat themselves to death. It satirises consumerism and the decadence of the bourgeoisie.
Here the work investigates the Swedish forest area that is threatened with extinction due to the Elm disease. The point of departure is to observe the desperate act to cut down all the trees. They lie there like infected dead bodies. The ecosystem is totally disturbed. But the more one looks at the infected trees, one understands it is all about restoring the ecological cycle.
Every fall till spring the little elm beetle lays their eggs inside the bark of the elm tree. When the eggs start to become small larvae, they begin a symbiosis with fungi. A mycelium and a beetle become strong forces. Together they form a deadly decease for the elm trees. Elm trees have been living on earth since very long time. But it looks like they become extinct very soon.
Trees are social organisms. They tend to live with other trees, in a complex network of mutual dependency. Is what we regard as “diseases” just the intricate exchanges and workings of the forest food chain? A wood without any diseases or parasites would be a lifeless cohort of leafy poles. No leaf-eating insects, therefore no insect-eating birds. No rot-holes for bats and owls. No timber recycled back into the soil.
The Installation Brakfesten – La Grande Bouffe created in Södra Hällarna is a buffet for insects, beetles, birds and other organisms. The “tables” are laid out in a shape that mimics the pattern of the bark beetles pattern in the tree bark. The intervention is conceived to support the wasteland to regenerate faster, as a kind of retreat called Brakfesten for all living organisms living there. In the long run it could develop into a vast swamp. Small damping rivers are installed, several bird towers that function as a breeding ground, where male birds can perform. The beetles get several burrows, and various habitats for insects are being built. The first infested elm trees are in such returned to nature as living plant tables. All can help themselves and eat from it. New seeds from the trees will surely grow in them and eventually the dead tree will be integrated back into the ecological cycle.
Directors Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Pauline Doutreluingne
Sound Composer Midori Hirano
Video Editor Judy Landkammer
Animation Moana Vonstadl
Camera Leif Eiranson, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Isak Mozard
Footage Research Pauline Doutreluingne
Commissioned by Public Art Agency Sweden
Produced by Public Art Agency Sweden in collaboration with Baltic Art Center
Curators Edi Muka, Helena Selder
Producer Anna Norberg
Film assistant/producer Isak Mozard
Specials thanks to Jenny Helin, Matilda Dahl, Amanda Overmark, Swedish Forest Agency: Skogsstyrelsen, Students from Uppsala University Campus Gotland, Krister Hafdell, Raphael Dintzner, Jonas Åberg, Martin Kolmodin, Gotlands Botaniska Förening