ECHTWALD FOR EVERYONE
The Stuttgart-based ECHTWALD Foundation was founded in 2010 by Thomas Grässlin and his partner Nanette Hagstotz. Grässlin is an entrepreneur and prominent art collector, while Hagstotz has a degree in cultural studies. Both have been fans of the forest and tree collectors since early childhood.
MR GRÄSSLIN, YOU STARTED AS AN ART COLLECTOR BEFORE BECOMING A TREE COLLECTOR. WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA FOR THE NEW ECHTWALD PROJECT?
Thomas Grässlin: Ive been studying and collecting trees for a long time. At home in St Georgen we have a small arboretum, a collection of various trees. I started to think about what landscapes would look like in the twenty-first century. I think that virgin forest is the gardening philosophy of the here and now.
AND WHERE WILL THOSE VIRGIN FORESTS BE CREATED?
TG: Its an international project. Well begin the pilot project in the Black Forest/Lake Constance region. After that, the next forest will probably be in Italy.
WHAT ARE YOUR CRITERIA FOR BUYING LAND?
TG: It must be large enough to transform it into an attractive forest. 1000 hectares would be ideal. Then we will work with universities to convert them into virgin forests in other words, we will have professional scientific help. The first step is to research the lands history, to find out what the virgin forest of that region looked like before the land was settled and forestry activities began. The next step is to develop timelines and conversion plans.
YOULL ALSO BE WORKING AGAIN WITH ARTISTS FOR THE ECHTWALD PROJECT?
TG: Yes, ten artists: Clegg & Guttmann, Tue Greenfort, Till Krause, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Tobias Rehberger, Daniel Roth, Andreas Slominski, Vincent Tavenne, Jan Timme, and Ina Weber. Many of them are represented in the Grässlin collection. They will design functional units such as cabins in the forest. Till Krause would like to build an exhibition hall for featuring other virgin forest concepts looking out at the world from our forest, so to speak, for there are already many other renaturalization projects currently underway. But active renaturalization and art is a new combination.
SO WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE SCULPTURE FORESTS INSTEAD OF SCULPTURE PARKS SPRINGING UP ALL OVER THE WORLD?
TG: I dont like the term sculpture park. Id prefer to speak of a holiday village, a place where you can spend the night. The idea of the cabins is to let people spend their holidays there. We would like to reach young families from places like Berlin and Stuttgart and allow them to get close to nature in the forest. Thats why the virgin forests are going to be close to urban areas they must be easy to get to. Our aim is to create artistic recreational areas in unspoiled natural settings.
(published in ART-MAGAZIN)