Art & Climate Change

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“Art alone will enable us to solve environmental problems.” Joseph Beuys

The natural landscape between Kleve and Nijmegen played a central role in the life and oeuvre of one of the most influential and controversial artists, teachers, and art theoreticians of the 20th century: Joseph Beuys (1921-1986). Based on Beuys´ conception that "politics needs to become art and art needs to become politics", Frank Mehring, professor of American Studies at the Radboud Institute of Culture & History (RICH), Faculty of Arts, started the project “Art and Climate Change”. Central questions in this project are: What do art and creativity mean for people and society in a changing Europe? What can we learn from Beuys´ vision of greening cities (Stadtverwaldung) and designing sustainable landscapes as an artistic performance (Aktion) in times of climate change? 

Photographs in Beuysland
The key element of the project are iconographic photographs of Beuys which the German-American photographer Gerd Ludwig produced in 1978. They rank among the most powerful representations of Beuys in contact with nature. We will place seven enlargements of the photographs in the landscape between Kleve and Nijmegen, we call it "Beuysland". The art installation can be explored via a bicycle tour framed along three narratives: Beuys and Nature, Beuys and Art, Beuys and Biography. The photographs bring Beuys into contact with the environment of his youth - at the very spots where they were taken about four decades ago. We will have the chance to meet Beuys, stand next to him in the landscape and encounter how climate change has affected the soil, flora, fauna, quality of air and infrastructure. Being physically present at these locations will enable viewers to critically “read the landscape” by a) contrasting the artistic view of 1978 with our own experience today in 2021 and b) connecting climate change with his artist performances, such as I Like America and America Likes Me (1974), Difesa della Natura (Defense of Nature, 1973-86), 7000 Oaks (1982) or his involvement in the founding of the Green party.

Mockup example: Beuys next to his cradle with a dead hare in meadow between Kleve and Nijmegen 1978/2021. Beuys emphasizes his roots in the landscape between artistic importance and self-parody. All Joseph Beuys photographs: (c) Gerd Ludwig. 

Your support
The production costs of the aluminum posters, framing of photographs, placing them in the landscape and license fees from the photographer amount to a total of € 8.100. We have already raised € 4.000. We are now reaching out to you via this crowdfunding website to raise the remaining € 4.100.

Thanks for your dedication and support of this project. We are looking forward to meeting you in Beuysland to encounter the landscape installation and talk about “art and climate change” in the area between Nijmegen and Kleve.

Would you like to know more?
Please read this article, check out the tab Project above or (under construction) or contact professor Frank Mehring, Radboud University, or 0049 170 9936 929.

Donors from Germany
You can donate by Visa, MasterCard or Maestro. If you want to receive a donation receipt from Germany, you can transfer your donation to Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus Kleve e.V.
IBAN: DE53 3245 0000 0005 0276 85
Ref.: Art and Climate Change
NB: if you transfer your donation to the Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus Kleve e.V. Radboud Fonds doesn’t receive your name and address, so we cannot deliver your reward. Frank Mehring will be in touch with you. 


The goal of the German-Dutch project “Art & Climate Change” is to create a bridge between academia, students and citizens by exploring contact zones between Beuys and the unique landscape that surrounded his life and art. The photographic art installation asks us to go out into “nature” –almost literally together with Joseph Beuys. Here, the images function as visual keys to discover surprising gateways to critically rethink Beuys`s “energy plan for the western man” and his artistic approach to planting trees in urban environments. With our aim to connect art and climate change in the region, we will be able to contextualize and compare our findings on a national and transnational level, such as e.g., the 7000 Oaks project in Kassel, Germany, the green High Line in New York or the future “Green City” project in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province, China.

In addition to placing the photographs in the landscape for guided tours, we will:

  • develop a digital app and website with maps, artwork, videos and audio that ties in the Beuys bicycle tour. The interactive app offers background information on the three narratives Beuys and Nature, Beuys and Art, Beuys and Biography. The website will become a growing resource for teachers, students and citizens on “art & climate change.”
  • organize tours to museum exhibitions. The project connects exhibitions at the Museum Arenacum in Rindern (where Beuys spent his youth) with the Museum Schloss Moyland (where the Beuys Archive is located) and the Museum Kurhaus in Kleve (where Beuys had his first art studio). Both museums feature art of Beuys and will allow audiences to connect their performative engagement with Beuys in the lower Rhine landscape with close encounters with his art.

This year, the project will be framed by a number of cultural events:

  • Lecture for Future by Prof. Frank Mehring (Radboud Universität) on „New Green City Deals: Joseph Beuys and Climate Change”, Hochschule Rhein-Waal. Date: Sept. 2021 (tbc).
  • Musical Concert on „Beuys and Nature” at the finissage of the Beuys exhibition INTUITION in Kleve in honor of the artist`s 100th anniversary.
  • Guided tours to the landscape art installation for students, societies, etc.
  • Guided tours in the Museum Kurhaus Kleve and Arenacum.
  • School projects on Beuys, Nature, Climate Change in collaboration with NABU-Naturschutzstation Niederrhein.

Next year, a book on Beuys, Nature and Climate Change will be published in which the landscape art installation “BEUYSLAND” will play a central role.

Want to read more? Read the article "Stadt, Land, Beuys" by Frank Mehring (German).

Project Team
Prof. Frank Mehring (Radboud University)
Prof. Joachim Fensterle (Hochschule Rhein-Waal)
Josef Gietemann, ARENACUM- Verein für Kultur und Geschichte in Rindern e.V.
Roland Verheyen, Museum ARENACUM
Helga Diekhöfer, Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus & Koekkoek-Haus Kleve e.V.
Hubert Wanders, Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus & Koekkoek-Haus Kleve e.V.
Jutta Tönnissen, Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus & Koekkoek-Haus Kleve e.V.

The project links with the following RICH Research Groups:
Tourism, Travel and Text
Memory, Materiality and Affect

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Fotograf Gerd Ludwig besucht Installation

22-09-2021 | 14:50 Ungewöhnliche Fotoaustellung von Gerd Ludwig an der niederländischen GrenzeZwei Alsfelder stellen Beuys auf die Wiese. Lesen Sie den Artikel und sehen Sie sich die Fotos an auf
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