Lois Weinberger

lois weinberger


about the work

Lois Weinberger‘s work has permanently changed the way we look at and deal with nature. He was interested in the peripheral zones, fallow land, and its vegetation. The preoccupation with ruderal plants is the starting point for his actions in outside spaces, for his sculptures, drawings, and text works. The reconquest and transformation of the cultural area into natural space was the focus of his artistic practice. Groundbreaking was one of his most famous projects worldwide, which he realized for documenta X in 1997. He transformed the disused railroad tracks of Kassel‘s Kulturbahnhof into a flourishing natural landscape by sowing neophytes from southeastern Europe. By introducing these „weeds,“ he created a metaphor for all that is undesirable and unworthy, triggering a reflection on migration and foreignness as a marginal phenomenon of our society. But this wild growth also expresses his botanical resistance to the symptoms of modern civilization, which tries to control and eliminate everything natural that does not fit the norm. Lois Weinberger was not interested in producing art in the sense of creative design but rather let nature have its way. His Wild Cubes, for example, created in the early 1990s, serve as a kind of protective cage of reforestation through spontaneous vegetation that emerges without human intervention. With this inversion, the anarchic’s protection challenges conventional hierarchies and becomes an advocate for the seemingly useless.

His appreciation of the different, the untamed, is also reflected in his interest in the practices of primitive peoples and shamanism. An example of this is the ink drawing Grow from 2009 presented in the exhibition, which, with its mask-like distorted face, refers to the mysticalshamanic potential of nature. The drawing of a tree, Green Man from 2006, also seems to have an inherent secret life. In contrast, the early photographic work Mohn ausgesäht (Poppy Sown) from 1993 documents Weinberger‘s strategy of subversive plant transfer. In the process, he set out plants in remote, uninhabited areas and fallow land.

curriculum vitae

Lois Weinberger (* 1947 in Stams / Tyrol, † 2020 in Vienna) worked on a poetic-political network that directs the focus to marginal zones and questions hierarchies of various kinds. He saw himself as a fieldworker and began in the 1970s with ethnopoetic works, which formed the basis for the artistic examination of the natural and civilized space. Ruderal plants – „weeds“- that affect all areas of our lives are the starting and orientation point for notes, drawings, photographs, objects, texts, films, and works in public space. In 1991-92 Weinberger designed the Wild Cube – a gate steel enclosure in which reforestation occurs through spontaneous vegetation, without human intervention – Ruderal Society – a gap in urban space. At the same time, Weinberger begins subversive plant transfers in appropriated areas of the city and landscape space. In 1993, the work Brennen und Gehen (Burning and Going) was created, for which Weinberger teared up the asphalt in the square in front of the Salzburg scene during the summer festival season, leaving this enclosed area to itself. In 1997, this work was installed in the parking lot of the Kulturbahnhof for documenta X and again in Tokyo in 1998. Also, for documenta X, Weinberger planted a disused railroad track with neophytes from southern and southeastern Europe, which became an internationally acclaimed metaphor for the migration processes of our time and, with its poetic-political references, points far beyond. In 2009 Lois Weinberger was invited to the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and in 2017 to documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel. With his work, he has been instrumental in shaping the new debate on art and nature from the early 1990s until today. He gave numerous lectures and talks worldwide, and his work has been awarded multiple prizes, including the Art Prize of the Klocker Foundation Innsbruck, the Appreciation Prize for Fine Art of the Province of Lower Austria, the Tyrolean Provincial Prize for Fine Art, the Medal of Honor of the Leopold Franzens University Innsbruck, the Appreciation Prize for Fine Art, Academy of Fine Art Vienna, and the Grand Art Scholarship of the Province of Tyrol.