Sankt Corona am Wechsel is hosting the first international forest art festival in Austria this summer, to which six artists from five countries are coming. The installations will be set up between June 13th and 24th in the forest park of the former Hotel Waldhof, which has been recently demolished. Although the forest art park belongs to private ownership, it will be open to the public and free of charge from June 24th.
As early as June 18, guests can watch the artists at work from 1 p.m. Tours through the forest art park take place at 3 p.m., 4.30 p.m., and 6 p.m. while the artists present their work. The Austrian composer Klaus Lang plays his compositions on the harmonium as part of the tours and ends the day at 7 p.m. with a concert – of course in the forest art park. With Google Maps you can easily find the place under the address St. Corona am Wechsel 28. The opening ceremony is again on July 9, 2022 from 1 p.m. From this day on, there will be forest art educational offers for children and young people between the ages of 4 and 18 every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free (waldkunst.at).
But what is forest art?
The six artists who design the forest art park have nothing to do with wood carving, nor are sculptures or pictures exhibited in the forest. “Forest art brings together the creative forces of the forest and the artists. The installations are created directly for the location and reflect its history, nature, and atmosphere,” says the curator Ute Ritschel, who is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of her global commitment to forest art with the forest art festival in Sankt Corona. The International Forest Art Trails began in Darmstadt in 2002 and have made stops in the USA, China, and the Ivory Coast (waldkunst.com).
“What forest art is, is revealed in an impressive way when you experience the installations in the forest,” says Dietmar Wiegand, co-initiator of the forest art park. “You begin to understand the forest, the things around you, and ultimately yourself differently. The guests keep changing their perspectives on the works of art, perceive the forest, space, light, colors, and textures again and start to think,” Dietmar Wiegand continues.
“Forest art uses the forest as a space to use art to change our perception and stimulate our thinking” is an attempt at an explanation on the website waldkunst.at for something much easier to experience than to explain.
In any case, Ute Ritschel invited the “who’s who of forest artists” to St. Corona:
Roger Rigorth was born in Switzerland and currently lives near Darmstadt. He brings sensation worldwide with his installations and sculptures, mostly made of willow branches or sisal. His exhibits transform landscapes in wondrous ways, and he manages to challenge human perception again and again. Materials and symbols are deliberately contrasted with each other to create a unique visual world. In St. Corona he chose the only linden tree in the coniferous forest and designed a new “centre” of it.
Sabine Maier is an award-winning Austrian media artist and art photographer and has been part of the artist duo Machfeld since 1999. Together with Michael Mastrototaro she realizes art projects for public spaces, in the fields of photography and film, but also interactive installations. In the forest art park Sankt Corona am Wechsel, Sabine did an artistic field research on the history of the forest park of the former Hotel Waldhof, in particular on the thirteen collapsed park benches in the forest behind the hotel. In addition, Sabine conducted numerous interviews with people from the region about the history of St. Corona and the surrounding area. Text fragments from it overlay the crumbling historical park benches. The interviews can be made audible via QR codes on the renewed park benches. Her photographic work on the microcosm of the forest is exhibited on the former tennis court.
Fredie Beckmans is a Dutch artist who experiments with various artistic expressions, mainly with a healthy dose of wit. He paints, draws, photographs or performs on stage; or writes: in renowned art journals as well as in homeless magazines. In the “Forest Art Park St. Corona am Wechsel” Fredie builds a small settlement – a “cloud cuckoo land”. Children have compiled the names of the birds on the oversized bird houses. One house bears the names of the native birds, another those of the immigrant species, and a third of species from other countries. There’s room for everyone in Fredie Beckman’s cloud cuckoo land – and room for plenty of imagination.
Imke Rust was born in Namibia and now works both in Namibia and Berlin. Her multidisciplinary work examines relationships between myth, reality, man, and nature. Imke questions entrenched perceptions of being human and always offers new perspectives. Her artistic output is profoundly personal and seeks to create meaning through process, narrative, and material. She is completing a waterfall made of colored branches in the forest art park Sankt Corona under the title “Change River.” The waterfall connects different places in the forest park with each other so that the perception of the forest is changed again and stimulated to think.
The German artist Thomas May has been dealing with the phenomenon of grass as an artistic medium for years – especially in the form of interventions and installations. Thomas creates six “tree gardens” in the forest art park Sankt Corona. He establishes this “second nature” by ingeniously positioning his large objects filled with grass or moss, which he places on and between the trees. An alienation that is only noticeable at a second glance but sharpens our senses and our perception all the more intensively.
Jens JJ Meyer from Hamburg is both a freelance artist and a graduate industrial engineer. This exciting mixture makes it possible for him to install stable stretched fabrics that create spaces and massively change the perception of landscapes – and he does that worldwide. Jens not only works in the forest but also likes to change the urban reality of city dwellers by enriching facilities such as museums or bridges with his imposing fabric tensions. Jens transforms the entrance to the St. Corona Forest Art Park as a “portal of light” into a spatial work of art.
“The forest art festival aims to change our perception of the forest, landscape, and nature. It is about the perception of ourselves as part of nature, about the effects of our actions as second nature. We are looking forward to welcoming our visitors!” Dietmar Wiegand, co-initiator of the forest art festival