(Arborvitea (Tree of Life), secateurs)
300 x 180 x 600 cm
Visitors to the art campus at Art Cologne were allowed to freely trim a hedge of arbour vitae at “No country more beautiful. Following the hedges”. Shears were provided as tools.
The title of the installation is a compound of the German folksong “Kein schöner Land” (No country more beautiful) and the song “Silent Hedges” by the British Dark Wave band Bauhaus. Both songs talk about stability, peace and freedom. “Silent Hedges” refers to the novel ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley, with its themes of semblance and insecurity within systems, while the lyrics by Wilhelm von Zuccalmaglio relate to an idealistic perception of trust and hope.
A hedge, trimmed in the conventional way, functions as a border with and demarcation of the surrounding area. So the hedge which appears “natural” in our society is really a constructed natural image. It is seen as a phenomenon rooted in tradition and culture, drawing lines through the countryside and creating territories.
The way the hedge is perceived changes continually throughout the exhibition – from typical trade-fair green accessory to exhibit to artwork. The hedge installation becomes part of the investigation of conditions. Through constant trimming the state of the hedge sometimes looks like handwriting or something similar. After four days of the exhibition, the hedge was almost crippled by people’s intervention.
After Art Cologne, the bushes were replanted by the river Rhine.