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Joseph Beuys’ Second Life

Joseph Beuys’ project 7000 Oaks was begun in 1982 with the intent of planting 7,000 trees of various types throughout the city of Kassel, Germany, each beside a basalt monolith (or stele). “The solid stone form beside the ever-changing tree symbolically represents a basic concept in Beuys’ philosophy, that these two natural and yet oppositional […]

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Joseph Beuys’ project 7000 Oaks was begun in 1982 with the intent of planting 7,000 trees of various types throughout the city of Kassel, Germany, each beside a basalt monolith (or stele). “The solid stone form beside the ever-changing tree symbolically represents a basic concept in Beuys’ philosophy, that these two natural and yet oppositional qualities are complementary and coexist harmoniously,” explains the website for the Walker’s exhibition Joseph Beuys: Multiples.

Beuys, who died in 1986, didn’t live to see the project’s completion, but just as the work juxtaposes permanence (death/stone) with ethereal dynamism (life/tree), the project has lived on, spawning others, like the Walker’s tree-planting effort in 1997 and, more recently, a re-enactment in the online game Second Life.

On March 16, exactly 25 years after Beuys planted his first tree, artists Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG) began a virtual re-enactment of 7000 Oaks. The pair began stacking basalt on the island they own in the game, Cosmos Island. The pair’s website reads:

The diminishing pile of virtual stones will indicate the progress of the project, which will go on until all 7000 oaks and stones will be placed. Second Life inhabitants will have the chance to take part to the performance, placing stones and trees in their lands.

Via networked_performance.