Constellation | 2021-
Elitza Koeva chronicles the life and death of a tree on the Harvard campus. The 75-feet-tall and almost two-hundred- year-old red oak stood in the heart of the Divinity School and was felled in 2019 to make way for extensive renovations at Swartz (then Andover) Hall. Many students and members of the faculty impassionately objected to the administration’s decision and reasoning. They held meetings where the University’s active role in property development, urban regeneration, land grabbing, and environmental destruction, both locally and internationally, were brought to light and put to discussion.
In the days preceding and following the fall of the tree, rituals and vigils were held at its location, with various kinds of offerings draped around its trunk and placed at its stump. Koeva’s project Divinity Tree (2022-2023) retraces this history by assembling a miscellaneous archive that consists of media reports, cellphone videos, objects and images, poems and prayers, architectural drawings, administrative documents, interviews she conducted with those involved in protests and tributes, as well as recordings of atmospheric sounds on the former site of the tree and the internal sounds of other oaks in the area. To summon the tree and its communal sanctity through different media is at once to create a memorial and to recount a neglected history of memorialization.
REMEDIATIONS exhibition (Harvard Smith Center, 2023) with guest critic Fred Moten.