Andrea Bowers: Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training—Tree Sitting Forest Defense, 2009

5 Mar

Following with her trend of making art purely about activists, in 2009 Bowers finished a video that documented her experience working with tree-protest activists to train for, and ultimately participate in, tree occupation. In her 2003 video Vieja Gloria, Bowers began documenting the first suburban tree sit-in over the proposed removal of a 400-year-old oak tree Old Gloria in Valencia, California. The video featured activist John Quigley, who soon convinced Bowers to train with him and prepare for future tree protests. Her 2009 video Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training– Tree Sitting Forest Defense presents her experience, which she later put to use at a tree-sit-in in Arcadia, California.

Tree sits - Canopy Camping, earth First! Direct Action Manual with Dreal Platform

Tree sits – Canopy Camping, earth First! Direct Action Manual with Dreal Platform

This video sets itself apart from the rest of Bowers’ work, as it focuses on her own experiences dealing with the practicalities of protest, rather than featuring the efforts and political context surrounding other activists or political victims. Nevertheless, the video holds a deep significance in the spectrum of Bowers’ work by demonstrating the degree of her dedication to direct action on her political beliefs that reach farther than using her artwork as a tool for mass exposure. “Focusing on the sheer amount of gear, skill, and stamina required of would-be tree sitters, Bowers produces a technical manual laced with the anxiety of operating alone.” (Five Acts: The Chronicles of Dissent)

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Bowers was ultimately arrested following the 2011 tree sit-in.

Sources:

1. Art Forum. Five Acts: Chronicles of Dissent. 

2. LA Times. Art Activist Andrea Bowers Arrested in Tree-Sitting Protest in Arcadia.

3. LA Times. Artist Andrea Bowers Turns Activist.

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