Karsten Neumann - 37 trees for Bethang
About 20 years ago, the Nuremberg-based concept and performance artist Karsten Neumann (*1963 in Würzburg) created the art city Bethang, which he has since then been consistently expanding artistically. Its name derives from the merging of the cities of NürnBErg, FürTH and ErlANGen. In 2005, Karsten Neumann laid out a city-encompassing carpet of blooming meadows, followed by a hiking trail created in 2013 and officially marked in 2018, which circles Nuremberg, Fürth and Erlangen on Bethang's outer border. An essential aspect of Bethang is to let the three cities grow together not only mentally but also aesthetically.
With "37 bäume für Bethang" (37 trees for Bethang), the artist started a tree-planting campaign with the goal of planting a publicly accessible tree in each of the 37 zip code districts of Bethang (Nuremberg 28, Fürth 5, Erlangen 4). The trees are financed through the sale of 37 illuminated canisters made by the artist from plastic waste. The purchase price of a luminous object includes the donation to the respective municipal green space office. It covers the cost of planting a tree. In Fürth (ZIP code 90762) and in Erlangen (ZIP code 91058), one tree has been planted so far. In both cases a flowering ash tree. Karsten Neumann has no influence on the type of tree. Here the green space offices decide depending upon location and soil condition. The flowering ash is one of the tree species suitable for climate change, which are now preferably planted, even if they are still partly in the proving phase. Finally, the tree receives a banderole designed by the artist that identifies it as a Bethang tree. As with many of his projects, with "37 bäume für Bethang" Karsten Neumann is venturing into areas outside of art discourse and the art establishment. At the same time, as an artist, he is challenged to deal with the various levels and structures of, for example, a city administration. The idea for the Bethang Tree Project was inspired by Joseph Beuys' action "7000 Oaks" (1982). Karsten Neumann, who recurrently refers to themes such as recycling or the environment in his work, in a sense "incorporates" the planting idea into his art city Bethang.
Text: Natalie de Ligt
From Sept. 22 to Nov. 14, 2021, the Kunstpalais will present a selection of the Bethang light canisters in the atrium of the Palais Stutterheim. The kunst galerie fürth-Städtische Galerie also supports the project with an exhibition. It is showing the artist's work in an installation in the large window front that can be seen from the outside around the clock. The vernissage will take place on 22.9.2021 in the gallery in Fürth.