On September 8, the citizens of Klagenfurt may well have missed the forest for the trees. The Wörthersee Stadium just outside the city limits, normally home to 30,000 cheering football or music fans, was transformed into a verdant grove.
It is Austria’s largest public art installation to date: For Forest – The unbroken attraction of nature, a temporary art intervention by Klaus Littmann. It combines artistry, nature and architecture, transforming the stadium into a domestic Central European forest with 299 trees, some of which weigh up to six tons and have been carefully installed over the existing playing field.
The exhibit has caught the attention of celebrities – among others, Leonardo DiCaprio.
The project was inspired by the art piece Die ungebrochene Anziehungskraft der Natur (The unbroken attraction of nature), a dystopian pencil drawing by the Austrian artist and architect Max Peintner (*1937), which Littmann discovered almost thirty years ago. Do we see nature as an intruder, a complement to our world or as essential for our survival, both spiritually and literally?
The answer is connected to urgent issues like climate change and deforestation, and to humanity’s relationship with nature in general. Littmann shows that, on our current trajectory, the “naturalness” of nature might one day be confined to specially designated areas, as is already the case with some endangered wild animals in zoos.
Designed by landscape architect Enzo Enea, the forest boasts several species endemic to the region: silver birch, alder, aspen, silver willow, hornbeam, field maple and English oak. That’s why after the exhibit ends, the whole woods will be carefully transplanted to a nearby site, to be preserved as a living, changing “forest sculpture.” Once moved, the forest will grow, change color according to the season and also attract wildlife. A pavilion is planned to permanently house project documentation and serve as an open space for pupils and students.
The forest is here to stay – if we just let it.
For Forest can be visited daily free of charge until October 27, 2019 (10:00 to 22:00).