KLAGENFURT, Austria – Three hundred 14-meter-tall trees have sprung up in an Austrian soccer stadium as part of an ecological art project that aims to shine a light on man’s relationship with nature and threats to the environment.
This huge installation, entitled “For Forest,” is the biggest ever to have been created in Austria and can be visited for free from Sunday until Oct. 27 in the city of Klagenfurt.
The living artwork recreates in 3D an intriguing and concerning drawing created in 1971 by Austrian artist Max Peintner.
“The Unending Attraction of Nature” is a dystopian pencil drawing that shows a grey metropolis of steel and stone and a stadium where the public observes a forest from the stands, as if looking at zoo animals.
Klaus Littmann, the artist behind the installation, has transformed this picture into reality, bringing trees – willow birches, hornbeams, poplars and maples, among others – to Wörthersee Stadion, one of Austria’s most modern soccer pitches that seats 30,000 spectators.
“The contrast of metal, steel, glass and forest. It couldn’t be better,” Littmann told the press Thursday as he summed up the effect of the piece.
He said he had been thinking about putting Peintner’s picture into practice for 30 years.
“The moment we managed to do it I found it a little disturbing,” said Littmann, in relation to the growing debate surrounding climate change.
But despite this, the piece is above all a cultural project, he added.
“It’s a political project,” said Peintner, who added there was a conservationist message and warning over climate change wrapped up in the piece.
He said when he created his drawing almost half a century ago, which went on to inspire this installation, what he had in mind was depicting a world in which the vestige of nature was like a circus.
“The stadium can also be seen as a protective wall within which nature is protected,” he said.
The installation can be visited every day until the end of October.
Though visitors can only look at the forest from the stands, Littmann recommended spectators change their vantage points to take in the view from other angles.
He also said the atmospheric conditions, rain and clouds, as well as the passage of time, would change the color of the leaves on the trees, making the experience dynamic.
When the exhibition ends, the trees will be replanted near the stadium as a “live sculpture.”
The stadium’s pitch, home to a second division Austrian team, will be returned and the playing field in perfect condition, according to the organizers.