All images: Eivind Lauritzen/Galleri F 15

Sarah Sekles
Animal Conference


In a field by Alby Manor House near Moss, a young and delicate oak tree is doing the job of remembering the death of a monumental 500-year-old oak tree, that was cut down by the German occupiers during World War II, to make room for artillery.

Animal Conference makes room for nature’s own discourse, leaving humans with the sole task of quietly listening. A circular stage is constructed by soil, seeds, water, and light with the wise presence of the young oak tree in its centre. Here birds, bees, worms, and wild animals interrelate and present their opinions. The stage will be accompanied by a guided walk around the field, in a separate area designated for the human audience. Visuals, text descriptions and audio stories told by the local community will also be part of the project, kept at a necessary distance. To emphasise respect and the will of balancing power, providing the opportunity for concentrated contemplation and reflection is key.

Animal Conference is process and performance at the same time. The project will constantly be changing with the slow natural growth, the time of the day, weather, and the unpredictable agenda of nature, as the type and number of non-human actors, animal or plant will change. The course of the process is a dynamic script written by the performers and the passivity by the human audience is important. The artist merely starts the project, letting the rest evolve by itself.

By emphasising slowness and simplicity, Animal Conference aims to create a marvelling that would result in a form of understanding. With the focus on nothing less spectacular than watching plants grow, developing into a magical oasis, while observing and imagining a silent conversation between the present non-humans, animals, without taking an active nor centred role.
Sarah Sekles is a German-Brazilian aspiring artist, with a background in product design. Her artistic and scholarly practice is an ever-evolving, research based and site-specific mixture, that seeks to understand the potentialities of art and their social applications. Her process consists of personal memories and the connection to her origin and heritage, focusing on historical happenings and made tangible through different materials and mediums, whilst imagining spaces as resources and starting points of her artistic work. Sekles is currently pursuing an MFA in Art and Public Space at the Oslo National University of Arts. In the past she has worked as an artist assistant as well as a freelance designer on several commissioned projects.