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Sounds simple, but it’s complex ! Five letters – NATUR – are written by Tim Otto Roth into the landscape with his sculpture. However, there is a sophisticated concept behind the lettering: The letters NATUR play with the ideas of nature and culture and demonstrate their ambivalent relationship. NATUR as lettering is itself language and belongs to the domain of culture, indeed even when we speak of nature, nature is already culture. And: do we all mean the same thing when we speak of nature?

NATUR ist Holz pur: Fällarbeiten für die erste Skulptur
NATUR is pure wood: felling work for the first sculpture

Where nature is on it, there is nature in it ? During the construction of the sculpture, consistent care is taken to ensure that only natural products are used, i.e. no screws made of metal are used and attention is also paid to the use of natural materials when painting the front surface. Due to the reciprocal framework, the letter constructs simply sit on a bed of gravel so that they do not get their "feet" wet. The letters remain stable even at high wind speeds by their own weight alone. This is quite a balancing act with the letter T, for example, as the T-beam is held in the air by its own weight alone. Some letters are ballasted with boulders from the surrounding area so that the balancing act also succeeds. In this way, the intervention on site remains minimal, as there is no need for a deep foundation.

Snow
Like a jigsaw puzzle: Les joints à verrouillage de forme assurent la stabilité correspondante à la construction.

Is the sculpture free-standing ? For the construction, a reciprocal construction method is applied, similar to that traditionally used for log houses, and translated into today's world. The timber structure engineers Prof. Asko Fromm and Johannes Kuhnen have come up with a special feature: The beams, rotated by 45 degrees, offer a reduced effective area for waterlogging and snow. The form-locking joints milled into the beams, which were refined at the Kompetenzzentrum Bau in Bühl by Stephan Hielscher and Florian Braun, interlock like puzzle pieces and cannot be moved.

Snow
Big things on a small scale: 1:24 scale model of the 14-metre-high sculpture in front of the plant shadow work "flora domestica".

Will each sculpture really degrade ? With its erection, a NATUR sculpture is handed over to nature. Therefore, transience is an essential part of the sculpture. It can be observed how it slowly ages and is reclaimed by nature. It is envisaged that the process of deterioration will visibly begin after 10 years for selected letters, depending on the type of wood. As a kind of sculptural vanitas still life, this proverbial nature morte poses the question of sustainability in a new way through its transience and processuality, not only in art and architecture but also in our relationship with nature in general.

Is there a special deal with nature ? Nature itself is not (yet) a legal subject with which a contract can be concluded. What law cannot do, however, art can do: inspired by a writing by Michel Serres, there will be a nature contract. The French philosopher urges us to think about whether we should not grant nature, as the basis of our life, more far-reaching rights in order to protect the earth. Consequently, each NATUR sculpture will be handed over in a symbolic act to nature after it has been erected.

Where can I get answers to open questions ? The creation of the sculptures marks the beginning of a long-term project. A multi-faceted programme of events for pupils, public lectures and readings, and even scientific conferences will encourage people to ask questions and seek answers through discussion. In a regularly published project newspaper, the question "What is nature?" is examined from different social perspectives. The latest news can be found in an upcoming blog on this project page starting with the erection of the first sculpture.