During the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West hit the stage for the seventh time, matching Madonna for the most performances at the VMAs by a performer. Mr.West performed “Blood On The Leaves” for the first time-and he made it count. For most of the performance it was just a simple silhouette of Kanye projected against a tree in a forest. We later found out that it was not just an image of a random tree.
The image of the tree in a forest that Kanye used is now being explained in full detail.
“So when it came time to give his first live performances of the Yeezus track, he ditched the fiery glitz of his last VMA performance — his silhouette danced in front of a large image of a tree. And while viewers may have thought it was just a tree, it’s actually a work of art that has much deeper roots. It’s “Lynching Tree,” a photographic still by British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen that embodies dark historical themes of “Blood on the Leaves.” The tree — located somewhere near New Orleans — once served as a gallows for slaves, and buried near underneath it are lynched victims, according to the Schaulager museum in Basel, Switzerland, where the piece hangs.” (MTV)
The performance and the image used are also reportedly connected to a historical dramatic film that is coming out.
“It’s related to McQueen’s fall film, “Twelve Years a Slave,” which tells the story of a free African-American man kidnapped in 1841 and eventually sold into slavery at a cotton plantation in Louisiana. It’s a haunting image for an at-times haunting track — and it all made for a VMA moment that will be hard to forget. And if Simone’s verbal images of “bodies swinging in the Southern breeze” weren’t enough, the backdrop made the television debut of “Blood on the Leaves” that much more unforgettable.” (MTV)
Kanye took to twitter last night and tweeted a photo of the background image and provided more insight of the tree used throughout the performance.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) August 26, 2013
The link also provided this text further explaining the importance of the photo.