Arts

How Deep Ellum Became the Permanent Home for an Instagram Famous Tree

Inside the Remarkable Art and Technology of the Tree of Ténéré

BY // 02.28.22
photography Chop ’Em Down Films

Since coming across Burning Man’s Tree of Ténéré sculpture in 2017, Jessica Goldman Srebnick of Goldman Global Arts has been intent on finding the installation a permanent home. When and where that would happen, however, she didn’t know.

“I saw it on social media, and I immediately wanted to dig further,” she says. “I needed to understand more about what these artists did and how I could be involved with this project.”

When Joe Beard, president, and CEO of Westdale Real Estate Investment and Management, approached her in 2019 about finding a unique sculptural piece to bring to Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, she gave him one option. “I had been waiting for this,” Goldman says. Two years later, the second iteration of the Tree of Ténéré has made its Dallas debut, taking root in Westdale’s eight-acre development, The Epic.

487 DRIFT Tree of Ténéré – Credit Chop Em Down 16
Installing the Tree of Ténéré at The Epic in Deep Ellum.

Originally created as a temporary installation for the 2017 Burning Man festival, the gargantuan sculpture was created by Zachary Smith, Marc Slee, and Alexander Green, in collaboration with Amsterdam-based Studio DRIFT artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta — the two artists who created the Virgil Abloh “Virgil was here” drone show for the Louis Vuitton menswear show during Miami Basel last December. While the real Tree of Ténéré in the Sahara Desert was once the most isolated tree on earth, the artistic version symbolizes growth among sterility and seeks to establish connection between individuals, nature, and technology.

At Burning Man, the tree hosted a makeshift classical music concert one day, became a wedding venue another, and a place for strangers to gather along the way. Studio DRIFT artist Lonneke Gordijn says, “It had so many meanings, and that’s what I found beautiful: It became something of the people. No one dictated how to live with that tree or how to make use of it.” She was eager to recreate a permanent version, and when presented with the Westdale-funded opportunity, she knew she would need to reinvent the tree to withstand its new setting.

 

Elizabeth Anthony

Swipe
ASSAEL
OLYMPIA LE-TAN
EMILY P. WHEELER
EMILY P. WHEELER
MARIA OLIVER
KATHERINE JETTER
MEREDITH YOUNG
LEIGH MAXWELL
MEREDITH YOUNG
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DRIFT (@studio.drift)

483 DRIFT Tree of Ténéré – Credit Chop Em Down 3
Wind movement is mimicked with flashing LED lighting.

Seeds of Sociability and the Tree of Ténéré

Over the course of two years, Gordijn and Nauta worked daily to make the tree as realistic as possible.

They employed wind sensors to distinguish how the leaves in that precise location would naturally sway and technology was installed to mimic that movement in real-time with flashing LED lights; they used sunlight-measuring software to understand the direction in which the branches would organically grow; they plastered resin against real bark in the forest to construct a detailed mold; and they wielded a steel base to give it strong, decades-lasting roots.

In an urban environment like Deep Ellum — and, specifically, The Epic — the Tree of Ténéré stands as a call to return to the basics.

485 DRIFT Tree of Ténéré – Credit Chop Em Down 5
Resin plastered against real bark was used to create the mold for the realistic trunk and branches.

“There are dictated rhythms of the city — the architecture, the speed of traffic,” Gordijn says. “And, as a human being, you have to adapt to that. We want to create this moment where you actually feel like ‘Oh yeah, this is a natural frequency that makes me feel calm and forget about all the other rhythms.’”

Tree of Ténéré, on permanent display in Dallas at the center of The Epic, 2550 Pacific Ave.

Visit Dallas' premier open-air shopping and dining destination.

Highland Park Village Shop Now

Featured Properties

Swipe
X
X