Spector Books
May 2023

The Tree We HurtMetaxia Markaki

Under the short mastiha tree, they caress the ground: a mother, wrapped in fabrics, and her young son, their bodies bent low as if in prayer or a kowtow. Their hands move in circles around the trunk. Rhythmically, they touch, flatten, and smooth as they spread a white cleansing powder. White fingers, white soil. Arms and twigs bend and twist. Figures fuse in this bodily encounter between humans and a tree. We see the preparation of the ground for mastiha (also called mastic), the aromatic resin of the tree, to fall after its trunk is pierced with cuts from a blade. In this way, the film The Tree We Hurt by Dimos Avdeliodis (1986) captures the mastiha landscapes of Chios in the 1960s as well as its practices of care and harvesting as they still exist and are performed today.