Climate commentary through Swiss artist’s tree sculpture

"Swiss Tree Sculpture"

At the 60th Venice Biennale, Swiss artist Klaus Littmann took the spotlight with an ark-inspired sculpture, dramatically raising climate change awareness. Titled “The Shape of Time”, the masterpiece centers around a single bald cypress tree, symbolizing the damage wreaked on nature by human activities.

The artwork, placed amidst the historic Arsenale Nord, served as a poignant reminder of our frail environment. Positioned in a cage-like structure on a floating platform, the tree engenders a transformative and interactive perception of nature. Viewers are lead to contemplate on the intricacies of organic existence and how it influences people’s lives.

Interwoven with themes of unity and interconnectedness, Littmann’s sculpture drives home the reality of coexistence. The roots stretching into the water basin highlight the symbiotic relationship between all organisms, reiterating the mutual reliance and shared responsibility towards our planet.

Moreover, the installation aligns seamlessly with the Venice Biennale’s central theme – Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere.

Visualizing climate issues in Littmann’s art

The bald cypress – dispersed globally yet possibly adapting to Europe’s rising temperatures – signifies resilience, adaptability, and reflects the profound shifts in our cultural and societal landscapes, all exacerbated by global warming.

Littmann’s collaborator, landscape architect Enzo Enea elucidated on the bald cypress’s resilience and multiple benefits including floodwater absorption, wind protection, carbon sequestration, and long lifespan. These traits not only present it as a monument to climate change but also as a feasible plant choice for a sustainable Venice cityscape.

In partnership with the art foundation, Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G, and the European Cultural Centre, Littmann’s project “Arena For a Tree” sees a progression from his previous works. This time, the tree at the spotlight is a solitary 50-year-old olive tree, unraveling the delicate bond between mankind and nature.

Despite the frailty of the olive tree, it exudes resilience, prodding viewers into challenging their views on the complexities of urban and natural landscapes. Partnering with KBH.G and the European Cultural Centre, Littmann underscores the criticality of environmental issues and calls for a conscious pursuit of environmental protection.

Concluding with “Tree Connections”, the final installation in the series established water as an important environmental element. The artist plans to continue tapping into themes of nature, sustainability, and environmental preservation through his artworks, compelling humanity to reflect on their relationship with the environment and the urgent need for conservation programs.