Donglai Meng ‘The Baron in the Trees’

Donglai Meng ‘The Baron in the Trees’

Presentation by B.a.d. guest Donglai Meng
29 to 30 April 2022
Opening 5pm, Friday 29 April.

“At the start of 2022, I began my four-month residency project at Foundation B.a.d. This is my fourth residence programme in the Netherlands. In previous projects, I used the unique atmosphere of the residency’s city, community or area to inform my work. I like to connect my subconscious world with real-life experience through narrative text and visual art, whether it be Breda’s Hairy-legs agent or the rabbit killers in the lakeside community, these products arise after I have immersed myself in ‘this moment and this place.’

The Baron in the Trees is a 1957 novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. Described as a Philosophical fiction and a metaphor for independence, it tells the adventures of a boy who climbs up a tree to spend the rest of his life inhabiting an arboreal kingdom. During my residency, I discovered many schools are local to this area, which gave me a lot of inspiration. The world of teenagers is always full of imagination, and they have a unique perspective of self-observation, an enlarged, subjective, and even slightly melancholy experience. Adults always sing the praises of youth and long for the past and dissatisfaction with the present. Children and teenagers live in the poetry without realising it until they grow up. This conflict and fusion between self and reality is an experience that everyone has. 
Fortunately, I invited a 15-year-old boy named Gustav to share a dream with me — his adventures with two friends in a tropical rainforest, with a giant baby, Aborigines, traps and hunting… Everything is so vivid! His contribution helped me focus on exploring the mental state of this young group, experiencing these ‘unfinished adult’ daydreams; I hope to reflect on real problems through fictional stories and arouse the audience’s awareness of their spiritual world.”

Supported by Mondriaan Fonds


Getting to B.a.d.