The Juniper Tree Bulegoa, Bilbao, 2019

A young Björk in The Juniper Tree (1990)

I was recently invited, alongside Karlos Martinez B to present a session for the Ilegal Cinema Series at Bulegoa, an artist research centre in Bulegoa, Bilbao. We chose the recently restored Nietzchka Keene film, The Juniper Tree.

“Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. (…)”
Ash Wednesday by T. S. Eliot

Screening of The Juniper Tree (Nietzchka Keene, 1990, 79’) proposed by Karlos Martinez and Rebecca Collins and followed by discussion.

Nietzchka Keene, in this strange debut as a director, offers us her vision of The Juniper Tree, a macabre tale by the Brothers Grimm. The film, whose leading role is played by Björk at a very young age, was filmed in black and white to capture the enigmatic beauty of Icelandic landscapes. As part of their contribution to P.I.C.A. (Programme for Collective Imagination in Creative Processes), Azala (Lasierra, Álava), Karlos and Rebecca have been working in dialogical processes around nature(s), in shared projects or with other reference points, intermingling questions on visual culture with the wild. They have wanted to share this film at Illegal_Cinema because of their desire and curiosity to expand this dialogue in order to incorporate symbols, witchcraft, and something more of the fictional world of fairy tales into it.

Rebecca Collins (High Wycombe, 1982) is an artist and researcher who explores sound and the performing arts through practice and theory. She uses the critical, the fictional and the performative to draw attention to contemporary life and its conditions.

Karlos Martinez (Durango, 1982) is a sculptor whose work focuses on ontological issues, exploring questions relating to access and mourning. Although he works with objects in different artistic media (text, film and graphic work) and is involved in several different cultural projects, making sculpture is his foremost concern.