Klaus Littmann. Arena for a Tree

  • When:   April 16, 2024 - July 31, 2024

Contemporary artArt Exhibitions in VeneziaVenezia


Klaus Littmann. Arena for a Tree

Opening April 2024, Arena for a Tree by Klaus Littmann will be presented in Venice for the very first time. Coinciding with the launch of the 60th International Art Exhibition, Arena for a Tree is poised to deliver a poignant message on global warming and sustainability.

Nestled against the backdrop of the historic Arsenale Nord, the temporary installation stands as an ark with a sole protagonist at its centre: the tree. From afar, the Arena for a Tree looks like a sprouting seed capsule. Up close, it is sculpture, architecture and podium at the same time: the grandstand offers three rows of seating and can accommodate 50 people at the time – creating an intimate experience and ideal view of the living trees whose roots are immersed in a water basin.

Drawing inspiration from the main exhibition of the Biennale, titled "Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere," Arena for a Tree explores themes of migration and identity. Over extended geological epochs, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), featured in the installation, has been indigenous to various regions worldwide. While its current habitat primarily spans vast areas of central and south America, the looming spectre of global warming hints at its potential to take root in Europe.

Hardy and tough, this tree adapts to a wide range of soil types, whether wet, salty, dry, or swampy. It is noted for the russet-red fall colour of its lacy needles.
'The Bald Cypress has an exceptional ability to pump up to 800l of flood water per day, to cool the surrounding atmosphere, to withstand hurricane level winds and storms, and temperature extremes, making it particularly resilient to the challenges of climate change and some of the challenges faced by Venice in particular.' says landscape architect Enzo Enea, who has been collaborating with Littmann.

Arena for a Tree is an everlasting image and evolution of FOR FOREST: The Unending Attraction of Nature, Austria's largest public art installation, where 299 trees of up to 14 metres high were placed on the football field of the Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt in 2019. This long term touring project by the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger was first presented on Münsterplatz in Basel with its accompanying exhibition Tree Connections in 2021, and in spring 2022 in the inner courtyard of the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. Venice is its third and last destination - and the first to include water as another critical global environmental element.... read the rest of the article»

Designed by Littmann and engineered by Schnetzer Puskas Engineers, the arena is formed by a basket-like, 7 metres high translucent structure of wooden ribs and slats. Its curved and haunched laminated beams are bound together at the top by a tension ring and at the bottom by a steel compression belt. Seen in plan view, the design of the structure and the inner grandstand represent the trunk of a tree in cross section with its concentric pattern of growth rings.

What Klaus Littmann cleverly isolates can momentarily rearrange our view of the world. The artist and curator has experience in inviting broad audiences to participate in an all encompassing experience. As a source of shade or as a host for birds and insects, his small temporary nature preserve presents itself as a quiet sensation.
'When the trees are in leaf, we see a beacon of hope in them. When they drop their leaves, we think about impermanence. The tree is a sign of life, a representative of the diversity of species and a witness to the vulnerability of the global ecosystem.' says Klaus Littmann.
Arena for a Tree has been made possible thanks to the generous support from the Kulturstiftung
Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G and the collaboration of ECC Italy (European Cultural Centre) as well as the generous support by the municipality of Venice and the port authorities.
As with all projects of the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G and ECC Italy, the catalogue and admission are free.

About Klaus Littmann | Littmann Kulturprojekte
Klaus Littmann (born 1951) lives and works as an artist, curator and producer in Basel, Switzerland. Littmann studied art at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, under the guidance of Joseph Beuys. Later he made a name for himself as a maker and independent mediator of contemporary art, as well as initiator and organiser of solo and group exhibitions and finally concentrated on the planning and realisation of thematic art exhibitions and interventions in public space. At the centre of his research lies the interest in everyday culture as well as the dialogue between contemporary art and historically grown urban spaces. Underlying each of his complex and unique projects is a dichotic tension highlighting the artist's preoccupation with everyday culture and the confrontation between contemporary art and urban spaces. Klaus Littmann was awarded the Culture Prize of the City of Basel in 2002. The art projects realised by Klaus Littmann in Switzerland and abroad are documented in catalogue and book form.

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Title: Klaus Littmann. Arena for a Tree

Opening: April 16, 2024

Ending: July 31, 2024

Curator: Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger

Place: Venezia, Arsenale Nord

Address: Arsenale Nord - Venezia



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