A cross-sectional view of a tree’s trunk reveals a diagram of concentric circumferences. Each of these rings marks a year in the life of the tree. The more rings it has the older the tree is. This part of the tree receives the name of heartwood and, in addition to storing its biography, it is also responsible for providing the tree with a structure strong enough to support the weight of its entire mast and its branches. Sometimes the heartwood shows accidents: cracks, holes, stains or knots. These marks show the passage of time in a different way, they display the various circumstances that the plant organism went through; because trees can also get sick and are affected in multiple ways by their interaction with other species and environmental factors.
The aforementioned actually happens with all living beings. We all cannot escape the pleasure and pain of being with others, nor the ravages of time in our bodies. But for some of us those effects are more evident. As if it were a tree, the passage of time for a body living with HIV is also measured in cycles that overlap. In our case, each of these cycles can be read as a triumph of our organism over the virus and this is directly related to the intake of antiretroviral treatment (ART) that allows us to live normally.
If a tree falls in a forest is a series of drawings that makes this metaphor visible. These diagrams were produced after a series of interviews with users of ART in Mexico. As in the cross-sectional view of a tree’s trunk, the repetition of these cycles shows the stronghold of a body, in this case thanks to its interaction with a chemical. The rings represent the frequency of intake of the medication while the variations in the shapes, shades and accidents show how this relationship is affected by external factors such as other diseases, the personal life, the identity crises, love relationships and the changes in the moods.
When raising the possibility of other treatment options that could reduce and space the doses delivering, almost all the participants agreed that for them it is more important that the side effects of the treatment, in the long and short term, are not so severe, so they stop adding discomfort to the stigmas and violences they already deal with. They also wish that other consumptions, of medicines and substances, could be taken into account while, as well as the diversity of their realities and contexts, since the drugs interact not only with a body and its organs, but also with the different habits, economies and socio-affective dynamics of this.
Beyond representing the action of a drug in an organism according to the passage of time, this piece draws attention to the fact that the interaction between the two of them is complex in numerous ways. ART does not only adhere to an anonymous biological entity but to individuals with different subjectivities and life forms. Recognizing the impact that a disease and its treatment have on the reality of those who suffer from it is something that science research should not lose sight of. I believe that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, it still makes noise.These diagrams are an attempt to make the rumors of a distant small forest of bodies audible, And if you pay enough attention to what they say, we might be able to prevent another fall.
I’m a cultural manager and visual artist who graduated from Unarte, Puebla. I studied a Masters in Visual Arts at the Postgraduate in Arts and Design at UNAM. I have participated in the collaborative projects Barco a Venus: Chemsex, Museo Arte Contemporáneo Ecatepec, Sombrero Invisible and Horizontes Valeológicos. I’m interested in rethinking sexuality from the observation of queer behaviors in the city and living matter.