Beuys Land Art Project Resurrected in Scotland

One of Joseph Beuys' 7000 Trees (1982) in Kassel, Germany. Photo: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Scottish contemporary arts organization, Deveron Arts, has commissioned French artist Caroline Wendling to plant an oak forest in Scotland based on Joseph Beuys’ 7000 Oaks project. In conjunction with the centenary of World War I, Wendling hopes to explore the themes of peace and conflict through the project.

Beuys presented the original piece of land art at Documenta 7 in Kassel in 1982. In 2012, the Director of Deveron Arts, Claudia Zeiske, collected acorns from Beuys’ trees in the German city. Around 60 acorns have now germinated and are ready to be planted.

Zeiske told Art Daily, “Joseph Beuys was an artist with an ardent interest in politics, in particular those relating to peace and ecology. He visited Scotland and became entranced by the Celtic tradition, the landscape and the mythological histories of the area.”

She explained that “Due to his untimely death [he] never managed to fulfil his ambition to plant an oak wood tree here. It has been our long-term hope to make Beuys’ dream come true.”

The organization is now preparing for the first planting cycle of the project, due to begin on March 30. A small stone from the WWI battlefields will be buried alongside the trees. Instead of the basalt slabs that accompanied Beuys’ trees in Kassel, Wendling plans to use limestone sourced from quarries close to the Western Front.

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