Arbor Erecta, 1998


View original Arbor Erecta via Sonya Rapoport’s website

Arbor Erecta: A Botanical Concept for Masculinity continued Rapoport’s exploration of narrative from the male perspective.

This artwork interweaves a new story about “James”, a transexual person who underwent gender reassignment surgery from female to male, with representations of the New Guinean initiation rite of “tree bonding.” As James grows from his female body into that of a male, he re-enacts certain New Guinean tribal rituals that purported to purge the female pollutants acquired from the mother from the body of the initiated man.

The site is structured by ten botanical plants that are perceived as having gendered attributes, inspired by the symbolic importance in New Guinean culture of the Pandanus tree.