Appropriation as an Apparition
On the Occasion of the exhibition Twenty: Celebrating 20 Years of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2011, I delivered a talk in IMMA’s large hall. I spoke about Beuys 7,000 Oak Trees, one of which was purportedly planted on the grounds of IMMA. I became familiar with this tree during my artist residence at IMMA in 2005. My studio was situated near the leafy sculpture and a considerable distance from a toilet. Over the course of my numerous mineral releases I noticed that something was amiss with the Sculpture.In 2005 it had an authoritative blue name plaque (now missing) detailing the provenance of the tree, which was planted by Caroline Tisdall on the occasion of the Beuys exhibition ‘Bits and Pieces’ in 1991. IMMA was also one of the primary sites considered by Beuys for the location of his Free University.
The tree was obviously missing its Basalt Stone, (an energy and heat accumulator, to aid and protect the trees growth). To the trained eye, the tree could be categorised as a cheap ill-considered opportunistic knock off.
To address the sculptures shortcomings and add to its fabrication I made a cardboard stone replica, which was protected from the elements with an outer layer of Sticky Tape.
At the end of my talk, I produced the stone on the podium and told the assembled audience that I was off to place the said stone folly beside the half-naked sculptural tree. The Replica Basalt Stone survived for a number of weeks before its obvious eye soreness became apparent and it reverted back to its anonymity as just another Oak Tree.