Backfire – The Firebreak

A performance by Inge Tranter

in collaboration with BunkerLove

For the Landshape Festival in Hanstholm – June 6 at 21.30 by the Light house



This work examines the crucial role of fire in nature, touching on broader themes of destruction and regeneration. It is a test piece for a larger work intended for the BunkerLove Festival in 2016.

Forest fires are uncontrolled fires in forests. In Denmark, these are often in fir tree or heath plantations close to dunes and are often the result of carelessness with fire combined with dry conditions. Forest areas that are particularly vulnerable to this kind of fire often have a series of firebreaks / fire lines and observation towers to prevent forest fires.

Preventing forest fires is often achieved by attempting first and foremost to prevent the uncontrolled spread of flames by establishing vegetation-free lines in front of the fire (in the direction of the wind). This is done by chopping down or controlled burning of the forest ahead of the oncoming fire.

In some forest types, forest fires are a natural part of the dynamic of the ecosystem, often caused by lightning strikes or in periods of extreme drought and heat. Vegetation is partly or wholly destroyed to allow the regeneration of new vegetation. The frequency of these fires can vary from between 80 – 120 years and in the case of eucalyptus forests, can occur as frequently as every 10 years.

Fires can trigger seed germination and the growth of seedlings, and in some systems, with ”fire dependent” species of trees, fire may actually be a prerequisite for the germination of seedlings. Fire causes many changes in the environment that improve site quality; removal of vegetation (creating gaps), increased heat at ground level, and a reduction in competition for water.

Source: J.E. Keeley and C.J. Fotheringham

The Holocaust Cloak

A holocaust* cloak is another name for a cloak of flames. The term originates from William Goldman’s book and film The Princess Bride.

The work

My work for Landshape will consist of a performance at dusk where I will create a firebreak using a holocaust cloak created with materials sourced from the forest floor in our local pine tree plantation in Tversted (pine cones, twigs, grass, etc.). The performance will take place on an open piece of land covered with bark chippings. At the one end of the field will be a fire dug into a pit, which will be the source of the fire. I will be dressed in the cloak and will take a walk across the pit, allowing the end of the cloak to catch fire, which will spread slowly upwards and outwards onto the bark chipping surface, creating a line of fire, which will function as a firebreak. The work explores themes of destruction and regeneration, fragility and resilience.


* “The Holocaust (from the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”). The word “holocaust” just means “a burnt offering [to God] in which the entire creature is offered and burnt completely.” This is as opposed to offerings in which the inedible parts were offered and the edible parts were kept and eaten by people. Elie Wiesel referred to the killings of six million European Jews (⅔ of Jews residing in Europe were killed by the Nazis) as “the holocaust,” and the term stuck. But its original meaning continues to exist.” (Wikipedia)

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