Úna Hamilton Helle

Copyright 2010-24

Becoming the Forest II
Treading the arboreal pathway through the backwoods of black metal

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Becoming the Forest is a publication which looks at our relationship to our surroundings, with a specific focus on the Northern hemisphere’s abundance of dense spruce forests, and how the aesthetic and philosophy of the musical subculture of black metal has become entangled with this topography, countering the anthropocentric interpretation of the world.

Becoming the Forest is a wider and ongoing arts project by artist Una Hamilton Helle, of which this publication is the latest instalment. The publication includes specially commissioned essays, interviews, illustration and photography and brings together multiple international voices from literature, the visual arts, science, art history and the musical realms. These include contributions about the molecular memory of spruce trees, musings on the animistic worldview, an introduction to folkloric painter Theodor Kittelsen and interviews with black metal-inspired bands that touch upon everything from eco-dystopian outlooks to the celebration of the mundanity of nature.

Table of Contents

Una Hamilton Helle in conversation with Carl Gunnar Fossdal
Inn I De Dype Skogers Favn – Epigenetic memory in the Spruce Tree
In which an artist and a scientist speak about their connection to trees on the molecular and mythological level and ponder whether trees have consciousness.

An interview with Occvlta
Wherein black metallers speak of growing up between beech tree woods, pagan burial sites and the East German border.

Amelia Ishmael
Here the repellent harpies make their nests
In which a dark and hungry narrative is woven in the night time world of a Dantean concrete landscape. Illuminated by Ibrahim Ineke.

An interview with Ashtoreth
Wherein we follow the drone musician down a shamanic path through inner and outer landscapes.

Camilla Christensen
Against The Mighty Ominous Forces of Nature: Nature, myth and national identity in the art of Theodor Kittelsen
In which we are introduced to the creatures of Norwegian folklore and the circumstances that led to a 19th century artist bringing them out of the undergrowth and back into the collective consciousness.

An interview with Alkerdeel
Wherein the filthyblacksludgedronedoom band talk about the wildlife of rural Belgium, the stench of nature and lawnmowers.

Audrey Ewell
Goodnight, goodnight
In which Audrey recounts life with partner and collaborator Aaron with whom she made Until the Light Takes Us, a documentary about the story of Norwegian black metal.

An interview with Mork
Wherein a gateway to an unholy wooded kingdom of decay is opened.

Una Hamilton Helle
Z4006: Mapping the Norway Spruce’s DNA
In which we discover how the secrets of an organism with genetic material seven times larger than the human genome were brought to light.

An interview with Hexvessel
Wherein Mat McNerney tells us of the frozen landscapes of Lapland, the astral teachings of the Ancient Egyptians and the ritual importance of Iron Age bogs.

Lotte Brown
Dusk is not a good time to go to the supermarket

In which a Belgian in search of solitude spends months alone in a house in the wooded foothills of the Catskills.

An interview with Fen
Wherein the Watcher takes us for a walk under the expansive skies of Eastern England.

Sarah Jury
Yasuni Travelogue
In which a trip deep into the Amazonian jungle calls up unsettling questions about the oil-stained effects of the Anthropocene.

An interview with Botanist
Wherein we are introduced to the Verdant Realm of the Botanist and his dystopian floral-centred philosophy is mapped out.

Further artworks by
Una Hamilton Helle, Ibrahim Ineke, Sebastian Rusten, Andrew Walter

Edited by Una Hamilton Helle and Lotte Brown.
Published by Het Bos Antwerpen.
Supported by the Norwegian Arts Council.
Designed by Gerard Leysen.
120 pages, 210x135mm, black and white.
Includes a pull out colour insert of Theodor Kittelsen’s “Pesta farer landet rundt” and “Det steg saa tungt at Jorden skalv".
ISBN 9789090303468
500 copies

Associated events

LONDON: 22 October at Nambucca, in collaboration with Flora Parrott and Cult Never Dies. Mork, The Infernal Sea and Ashtoreth played and geographer and cave explorer Harriet Hawkins gave a talk alongside a panel discussion. More info here.

ANTWERP: The publication launched in Belgium on 7th September at Het Bos, Antwerp. There were projections and collages, spruce-infused drinks and Wiegedood and Ashtoreth played.

OSLO: Becoming the Forest #2 was launched at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo with a screening by contributor Sebastian Rusten and dj's from local record shop Katakomben in May.

BTF#2 is distributed by Antenne Books worldwide.


The Guardian
Creators Project (Vice)
Decibel Magazine
The Quietus
The Learned Pig
Enola (in Dutch)
Gonzo (print only)
Kunstforum (print only)

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Poster for the London launch
Una Hamilton Helle, Harriet Hawkins, Flora Parrott & Dayal Patterson discussing caves, forest and black metal
Geography professor Harriet Hawkins speaks of the subterranean
Mork play the London launch, band photos by Emily Power
The Infernal Sea
Poster for Antwerp launch by Gerard Leysen
Launch at Het Bos, Antwerp
Ashtoreth plays the Belgian launch
Launch at Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, photo by @blackvalund
Screening of footage from Sebastian Rusten's undergrowth performance 1:1
http://www.unahamiltonhelle.co.uk/files/gimgs/th-51_Katakomben DJs and Una.jpg
DJs Jørgen & Kenneth from Katakomben record shop & Una at Oslo launch