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7000 Oaks was a public art project undertaken in Kassel for the inauguration of Documenta 7 in 1982 and which continued five years after under the auspices of the Free International University. A true amalgamation of Beuys’ concept of the social sculpture, the planting of 7000 Oaks was a sculpture referring to people’s lives, to their everyday work. Beuys intention was to be among social problems and problems of nature and thus regenerate the life of humankind and spiritual consciousness of fellow planetarians. The solid stone base – made of basalt, which one can find in the craters of extinct volcanoes – complements the ever-evolving tree and thus represents a basic concept in Beuys’ philosophy, that these two natural yet oppositional qualities are complementary and coexist harmoniously.
“I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heartwood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet.
My point with these seven thousand trees was that each would be a monument, consisting of a living part, the live tree, changing all the time, and a crystalline mass, maintaining its shape, size, and weight. This stone can be transformed only by taking from it, when a piece splinters off, say, never by growing. By placing these two objects side by side, the proportionality of the monument's two parts will never be the same.”