I feel a certain sadness as well as an admiration for the trees in the city. They cannot escape their fate (except, finally, through their own death) which is to grow, surrounded by concrete, vulnerable to man, the elements and the vicissitudes of the city, amidst indifferent crowds that hurry by. I photographed the scarred and gnarled trunk of this tree in Braamfontein in Jozi. It struck me how much it resembles the skin of an old weather- and labour-worn man, or perhaps the brutally lashed back of Christ, it’s body a record of injury. Yet the tree was not very old, and here again I thought about how the city ages it’s inhabitants: Street kids, prostitutes, the homeless are scarred and wounded like this tree. It seems a metaphor for their lives. Look carefully at the photograph: this is a Jozi-tree. There are holes like gunshot wounds, knife slashes, marks like ritual scarification; pockmarks, welts, deformities and knob-like protrusions, evidence of amputated branches, disease or simply lack of care. There was no engraved heart with lovers names which might make sense of the marks, not even an incised expletive: just a cruel randomness. Pitted with craters like the moon that watches the city at night, This tree is a city-dweller no less than the indifferent passers by: together they share this cold, concrete space. They share their contingent lives, and their suffering.
“Christ was bound and nailed to a cross
fashioned from a tree” – Vandorgyules