Europe

Austrian football stadium hosts forest as dystopian vision comes to life

A woman takes a photo of the forest from the seats of the stadium Image copyright EPA
Image caption The free exhibition opened its doors to visitors on Sunday

An Austrian football stadium has been transformed into a native central European forest.

Designed by Klaus Littmann, the installation is a statement against climate change and deforestation.

Hosting almost 300 trees, the stadium hopes to attract wildlife during the seven weeks the installation is open.

It was inspired by a dystopian image of a world where nature could only be seen in designated spaces, like animals in zoos.

The painting by Max Peintner that the installation is based on Image copyright Max Peintner
Image caption The installation is based on a drawing by Max Peintner

Littman stumbled on the drawing in 1970. It was called The Unending Attraction of Nature by Max Peintner.

"I thought that the idea behind the work was simply fascinating," Littman told the BBC. He said he wanted to purchase the drawing but it had already been sold to an American art collection.

"That's when I decided I wanted to realise the drawing, have it in front of me and experience it in real life," he said.

Artist Klaus Littman presents his art from the stadium seats Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Artist Klaus Littmann presents his work, which includes trees weighing up to six tonnes (6.6 US tons)

Three decades later, the installation, which has been named For Forest - The Unending Attraction of Nature- has opened its doors.

Both artists worked around a vision of natural spaces only existing as objects in an exhibition.

Planted inside W├Ârthersee Football Stadium in Klagenfurt, which can hold up to 30,000 spectators, the forest is expected to change colour as autumn approaches.

An aerial night shot of the stadium with the forest lit up by flood lighting Image copyright Unimo
Image caption The exhibition will be open into the evening, when it will be lit up by floodlights

The 299 trees were all brought in from nurseries and will live on after the project in a planting site near to the stadium, causing as little interference to nature as possible.

"I have never worked with living beings before and I am absolutely aware that this cannot be compared to working with a sculpture, a photo or a painting," said Littman. "The work has to be adapted to the species and has to be done with a lot of attention and respect. "

An aerial shot of the stadium with the forest within Image copyright Unimo
Image caption By day, the forest will be bathed in golden autumn sunlight

He worked alongside Enzo Enea, a landscape architect, who had lots of experience working with trees in different environments, to ensure they were properly cared for.

"Perception is really a central theme in my projects," he said. "In For Forest, I do so by taking something which we know in our everyday life and putting it in a new context. This forces people to question things that surround them and that they take for granted, in this case trees."

The forest lit up by night-time floodlights Image copyright Gerhard Maurer
Image caption By night, the floodlights will give the forest an eerie moonshine quality

All pictures copyright.

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