Sculpture Forest Sanctuary

Sculpture Forest Sanctuary
(Paweł Althamer, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Alioune Diouf, Cecilia Edefalk, Paweł Freisler, Antje Majewski, Gregor Prugger)
Organized by Antje Majewski


The artists of the Sculpture Forest Sanctuary group found each other through years of discussions about forests and the possibilities we as artists and citizens have to preserve them.

Through our artistic intervention we aim to create areas of forests that will not be owned by any legal entity, not even by themselves. Since this is legally not yet possible in Europe, we propose as a first step to establish Sculpture Forest Sanctuaries.

The artists provide sculptures that will be reproduced for each new edition of the Sculpture Forest Sanctuary. They are placed inside a forest and left there. The sculptures are made of materials that can be found in the forest itself and will with time disintegrate to become part of it. The sculptures act as “guardian spirits” who make sure no harm is done. They are made of wood, but also have human shapes and thus form a hinge between us and the forest.

For our donation of the sculptures we will receive in return from the owner of the forest – the municipality, or the private owner- the affirmation that the forest will remain completely untouched by human beings for 100 years (or, if possible, forever). This includes the case that the forest ceases to be a forest for ecological reasons. The only exception is the maintenance of a pathway leading to the sculptures.

The owner of the forest gains a sculpture garden that can be shown to visitors. It can also be enlarged by donations or acquisitions of sculptures by other, preferably local artists, under the condition that these sculptures consist of materials that can be found in the forest. In turn, the owner renounces the right to make any other use of this forest or to interfere with it in any way.

The Sculpture Forest Sanctuary will become a small field of experimentation in which the adjustment to climate change can be studied. What plants, what insects will vanish, which ones will spring up, which ones are the most resilient? Similar to „Sacred Forests“ in West Africa or South China – spiritual places in which the communion of living and spirit beings can unfold – it will also give space for a multitude of plants, animals, microbes, fungi and other beings. We hope that these forests will have a positive impact around them and that visitors will walk through them with good intentions and special experiences. We want to preserve forests, not to cut them off from humans – on the contrary, we would like to deepen the connection between humans and forests. We wish for a new respect for the other living beings and ecosystems with which our lives are so closely connected, but which also exist independently of us.

An important part of the work will be the legal and economic discussion of the problem that under European law there are no “land / territories without ownership”, even though each area was originally without ownership. Taking forest areas out of use for 100 years is only an intermediate step – it would be even better to make them completely owner-free. What new forms of ecological economy, what new legal terms do we have to develop?

The project is in principle open and can be adapted to circumstances. Each of the participating artists can create a Sculpture Forest Sanctuary using copies of the sculptures of all the other participating artists.


The first Sculpture Forest Sanctuary was organized by Antje Majewski on invitation of Adam Budak for the Biennale Gherdeina 7, which took place in Ortisei / St. Ulrich (IT) in 2020. The artist Gregor Prugger, who also participated in the project, generously agreed to install the sculptures in this private forest and agreed to take this forest out of any other usage.


Sculpture Forest Sanctuary Manifesto

Can human beings own a forest?
Can human beings own a fox?
Can human beings own a tree?
Are human beings owned by forests?
Are human beings owned by wheat?
Are human beings owned by pigs?
When we cut down, something else will grow.
When we consume, the energy transforms into something else.
When we destroy, something else is born.
But these new energies, new forms of life might not be for us. The new world that our
activities create might not have a place for us. It is these trees, these insects, these foxes, these
birds that are our family.
Our sculptures multiply and guard over the forest. A forest not to be cut or consumed. A forest
that can change by itself with a changing climate, ever so slowly.
Our sculptures will decompose and nurture the soil of the future forest.
The forests will multiply, strengthened by our guardian spirits, waiting for the future forests.
The forests: the trees, the insects, the microbes, the worms, the fungi, the birds, the fox, the
The sun on the leaves, the water in the soil, the sound of a chirping bird, the smell of wet

Paweł Althamer, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Alioune Diouf, Cecilia Edefalk, Paweł Freisler, Antje Majewski, Gregor Prugger



Good day. (!) Another good morning … sunny, transparent … so for a week my trees of happiness are playing in the warmth … about twenty trees.
I have them in ten pots … and in these pots there are more or less smaller and larger trees of happiness… They all come from one ‘strain’ so I can write that this plant has grown with me. It grows slowly but constantly.
During the year, it can lengthen shoots by several centimeters. The leaves are fleshy (and it’s not enough to say so) storing water. (…) The leaves are shiny, ovoid, evergreen, sometimes with a red edge or bottom.
I have a few jars with dry leaves from the tree of happiness… a multitude.
I dried them in different ways … one thing is certain … the tree of happiness by me, whatever it is, always one (domesticated) grows slowly …
apparently it likes to be plucked (and the leaves dry very, very reluctantly and unwillingly) … the slower they dry, the more beautiful they are! … so I proceed straight … the box in which the dry leaves are… is covered with micro-silica from the inside
silver dust … this dust of nature … brings happiness … I photographed dry leaves … of trees of happiness… in the rhythm of my pulse … I send … “video” ‘split second’

I am asking for multiplication of this rhythm.
I bow low Pawel Freisler