The “Embassy of Trees” was established in 2018 by artist Ellen Bornkessel to give nature a voice.
Nature is being forced out of the spaces we live in, and we are experiencing a great number of species becoming extinct.
Our world is becoming ever emptier. We are paying a high price for the material goods we gain from destroying our planet.
Through the medium of art, the “Embassy of Trees” creates a diplomatic representation of the forest in the city and that way give trees a voice. Something that had seemingly been lost is returning to the space we inhabit and reminds us of our connections with it.
The project places large photo installations of forests in the urban sphere – where they are unexpected and thus confuse.
“What is the forest doing in the city?” They render visible what we lack, what we destroy, and this way inspire us to act.
They also bring about a hint of magic and beauty into our hyper-optimised lives. In spaces where we would usually see only ads, we now find nature watching us.
As one instance of the project, a photo installation of a forest around 100 metres in length was set up to surround Cologne Cathedral, a world heritage site. A public-transit bus in the German town of Monheim was converted into a forest on wheels. These contextual shifts, a rededication of advertising space create great positive attention.
The “Embassy of Trees” sparks people’s desire for pristine nature, and for more nature in cities, and makes the very contradiction explicit that we are living, while also aiming at our options.
We can live sustainably!
“In my landscape stills, I look for the ‘glow’ of the forests. I am interested in the wild and powerful nature, the energy of which I want to transmit into cities through my pictures. I hope to be able to touch many people and to encourage even more to take action. Plant a tree today!”
“Embassy of Trees” are opening their embassy at Monheim on the Rhine. The forest will return to the city from 7 February to 30 July 2020. Through her “Embassy of Trees” project, artist Ellen Bornkessel brings the forest to the city and gives trees a voice.
Her photo installations show forests. For Monheim, she has created a ‘forest bus’. She goes into the forest to photograph trees in a way to reflect their entire power and beauty. Her photos capture her individual experience of the forest. One of these forest photos covers a public-transit bus and this way literally brings the forest into the city. This way, nature appears in the space we live in in a playful way. The “Forest Bus” turns an everyday bus ride into an art experience.
It creates a piece of art that is freely accessible, which triggers emotions through its adventurous character and is a sensual experience for anyone regardless of their age and background. Experiencing the forest is not limited to the visible, though. Inside the bus, there are subtle but perceptible natural forest scents. Passengers on the bus will find memories of trees triggered through the scent. “Forest Bus” is part of the “Embassy of Trees” project. It brings nature to the city and gives it a voice: “I want to create something that reawakens our sense of connection with nature in a playful and light way. I want to embolden people to tackle the challenges of climate change head-on and to have beauty and naturalness come into our lives.”
“Embassy of Trees” by Ellen Bornkessel
Exhibition curated by Fabian Lasarzik.
Catalogue: “Forest Bus”, Kettler Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86206-822-7
for further Information: www.embassy-of-trees.de
Through the “Embassy of Trees”, artist Ellen Bornkessel brings nature back into the city. Her large-size photographs of trees will be on display outside Cologne Cathedral from 7 to 21 February. They are a stark reminder that only a green city is a liveable city.
Our cities are growing. Space being limited, it is becoming a rare commodity. Economic interests exist in opposition to people’s need for calm and clean air. Ellen Bornkessel gives trees a voice in this field of tension. In her current installation outside Cologne Cathedral she places life-size images of tree scenes attached to building-site fences next to each other. Visitors stroll past the installation as though they were walking through a forest. Viewing the photographs, the magic and aestheticism of nature unfolds. At the heart of the bustling city centre they have a particularly soothing and liberating effect. Humans need nature, also and particularly in the city.
This installation launches the “Embassy of Trees” project including art, presentations and performances. Like any other diplomatic representation, the embassy of trees connects two worlds: that of the city and that of the forest. “As an artist, I am taking a stance by establishing the Embassy of Trees,” Bornkessel explains. She appeals to us to reconcile with nature, campaign for climate protection and to plant trees. Nature’s wildness, power and beauty that returns to the city through this project equally is a call for greater vitality, diversity and beauty in our lives.
On 12 April, tree seedlings will be given to passers-by on Cathedral Square (“Domvorplatz”) just outside Cologne Cathedral.
The "Embassy of Trees" appeals to us to work for the climate and nature conservation, to integrate nature in our city and to plant more trees now. Trees stand for the hope in a future in which life will receive more respect.
As an artist, I want to make a statement and contribute to the preservation of nature. The magic and beauty of nature that returns to the city with "Embassy of Trees" is also a call for more life, variety and beauty in our lives.
I was searching for the being and the energy of the forest.
Press Release "Embassy of Trees" Climate Art in front of Cologne Cathedral 7. - 21 Feb. 2018
The artist Ellen Bornkessel brings nature back into the city with the "Embassy of Trees". Her large format photographs of trees will be in front of Cologne Cathedral from the 7th to the 21st of February. They are an impressive reminder that only a green city is worth living in.
Our cities are growing. Space is becoming a scarce asset. Economic interests are contesting with people's need for peace and clean air. Ellen Bornkessel gives the trees their own voice in tense atmosphere. In her current installation in front of the Cologne Cathedral, she juxtaposes life-size pictures of tree scenes attached to fences. Visitors stroll pass the images as if they were strolling through the forest. Looking at the photographs unfolds the magic and aesthetics of nature. In the middle of the bustling city centre, they have a calming and liberating effect. People need nature- even in the city and especially there.
The installation, "Embassy of Trees", is the start of a project which includes, lectures and performances. Like any diplomatic mission, the "Embassy of Trees" seeks to build and develop a relationship between two worlds; here between city and forest. Bornkessel explains: "As an artist, I would like make a clear statement, that is why I created the " Embassy of Trees". It appeals to us humans to reconcile with nature, to campaign for climate protection and to plant trees. The beauty of nature returns to the city with this project, it is also a plea for more liveliness, diversity and beauty in our lives.
Through the support of the Metropolitan Chapter of the Hohen Domkirche zu Köln, as well as the Dombauhütte , it became possible to use the Cathedral forecourt as an exhibition venue. This is a meaningful constellation, because the institution church has dedicated itself, as has the "Embassy of Trees" to the preservation of the creation. The "Embassy of Trees", joins the cathedral on its site which is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and must be preserved for posterity. On top of that, its pillars- just like trees, symbolize the connection between heaven and earth, the aspiration for all things earthly.
The installation is free. On the 12th of April, seedlings will be given away to passers-by during a performance on the square in front of the cathedral. Afterwards there will be a talk on the topic in the cathedral forum.
"Embassy of Trees" has given away 300 seedlings to passers by
"Embassy of Trees" hat 300 Baumsetzlinge in Köln verschenkt
born in Hammelburg, Germany
1995-1997 Visual Arts, University of Applied Sciences, Bielefeld
1997-2001 Academy of Visual Arts,HGB Leipzig, Class of Prof. Brohm , Photography
Class of Prof. D Ùrbano, Mediaarts, Diploma
2001-2002 Masterclass of Prof. D Urbano
2014- 2016 lecturer in photography, HMKW, University of Applied Sciences, Cologne
since 2018 Member German Photographic Association
lives and works in Cologne, Germany
Awards/Grants/ Catalogues / Fundings
2018 Member of German Photographic Association
2015 Nomination grant Hoepfner Stiftung for "play"
2013 "play" monographic catalogue, Klartextverlag
2013 Zollverein Foundation, exhibition and cataloguefunding for "play"
2012 "Promethiade", catalogue, documentation of the european festival "Promethiade" with Dr. Frank Raddatz
2009 Goethe Institute Peking, travelfundung for "Together in Movement"-Contemporary Art from china and Germany
2009 Exhibitionfunding from the Cultural Office of Cologne for "play"
2004 European Union, grant for Triangle project
1999 grant Rheinisches Industriemuseum Oberhausen
2018 "Embassy of Trees" Installation, World Heritage Cologne Cathedral
2018 "Embassy of Trees" Michael Horbach Stiftung, Cologne
2018 "Embassy of Trees" Installation, Cologne City Hall
2013 „play“, Ruhr Museum, Unesco world heritage Zollverein, Germany (Catalogue)
2010 „Easy Beauty“, Gallery Loris, Berlin
2009 „Night“, Dance-Videoperformance with pretty ugly dance, Arkadas , Cologne, Germany
2009 „The StandingStills“, Gallery Loris, Berlin
2009 „play“ Moltkerei, Cologne, Germany
2008 „play“ Gallery Loris, Berlin
Exhibitions and Screenings (Selection)
2017 Stadt-Landschaften, in focus Gallery, Cologne, Germany
2016 Begira Photofestival, Museo de Arte e Historia, Durango (Bizkaia), Spain
2015 Exhibition grant Hoepfnerfoundation, "Stadttraum-Traumstadt", Karlsruhe
2012 „Photographs from Elsewhere“ at fotofreo Foto Biennale Perth, Australia
2011 „diamonds and pearls“, Gallery Loris, Berlin
2011 „The Best of all possible Worlds“, Carpe Diem Art Space, Lissabon
2009 „Together in Movement“ Contemporary Art from China and Germany,Museum of Arts, Wuhan, China (Catalogue)
2008 „1:1“, Gallery Loris Berlin, Month of Photography (Catalogue)
2008 „Loop 08“, VideoArtFair, Barcelona
2007 „they rule the Valley“, Gallery Loris, Berlin
2006 „Pulsar“, Mediaartsfestival, Caracas Venezuela
2005 Recontres Internationales Paris /Berlin, Centre Culturel Suedois, Paris, France (Catalogue)
2005 „Pulsar“ at Museum of modern Art, Cali, Kolumbia
2004 Festival International De Filmes De Femmes, Creteil, France
2004 Sydney Film Festival, Sydney, Australia
2003 ArtFilmBiennale, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (Catalogue)
2003 International Munich Filmweek, Munich, Germany (Catalogue)
2003 „Musterwelt“, halle für kunst, Lüneburg, Germany
2003 „radiator 2“, Nottingham, England
2002 „Arsenal“, Wandelhalle, Cologne (Catalogue)
2002 19. Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest (Catalogue)
2002 Praterfernsehen, Volksbühne Berlin, Germany
2001 VideoEvento d Àrte, International Academy of Arts and Media, Turin
2001 „natural_mente“, Museum of natural Science, Leipzig, Germany (Catalogue)
2000 artKino, Art Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany (Catalogue)