In his installation ”Tanzende Bäume” (Dancing Trees) conceived for ”Blickachsen 7”, Timm Ulrichs has placed a group of three young birch trees – invisibly mounted onto rotation motors and fitted with movement sensors – in open meadows in six cities in the Rhein-Main region. From a distance these trees appear newly planted. As the visitor approaches, however, he unwittingly triggers a contact which sets the trees in motion and is immediately taken aback by their unexpected dancing and turning movement. What at first seems entirely natural and familiar becomes artificial and strange. The six groups of trees in their different locations – and with them the six cities themselves – are connected to each other through the internet, so that setting off one tree in one location sets off all the others. The visitor to the park thus becomes an unwitting accomplice in the project. In this Ulrich combines the tree as a familiar symbol of natural growth, ageing and taking root, in a playful questioning of expectation, with contemporary concepts of mobility, interaction and networking.
Timm Ulrichs is considered today to be one of the most important German concept and performance artists. Describing himself as a ”total artist”, he shocked audiences in the 1960’s and 1970’s through his provocative self-representations. He has written significant works of concrete poetry, his static and kinetic large-scale sculptures have been installed in numerous towns and cities, and he was a participant in 1977 in the documenta 6 exhibition. From 1972 to 2005 Ulrichs was Professor of Sculpture and Total Art at the State Academy in Münster. In the 2001 ”Blickachsen”, his work entitled ”Versatzstück” (Set Piece) was on display in the Kurpark. As in this work, his ”Dancing Trees” project in ”Blickachsen 7” (see page 23), an installation in several cities in the Rhein-Main region, also addresses the tension between nature and culture. Again Ulrichs questions our preconceptions and ways of seeing the world. In conformity with his maxim ”Art is life, life is art”, his extended conception of art reaches into everyday life, and with his ”Dancing Trees“ takes up in a radically new way the theme of the modern networking of the world.
Oka Doner, Michele