In Brief

An Attempt to Create Europe’s Largest Environmental Art Project with 5,000 Trees

The street artist Escif wants to plant 5,000 trees in the shape of a low-battery symbol atop Mount Olivella in Italy.

Rendering of “Breath” by Escif, curated by Antonio Oriente and Incipit (all images courtesy Breath)

An artist is setting out to create the largest environmental art installation in Europe, and he’s attempting the feat by growing trees. “Breath” is the green vision of Spanish street artist Escif, whose creations have colored sites from walls in Montreal to Banksy’s Dismaland. This latest effort is a departure from his past work, completely free of paint and set to cover a patch of a mountain in southern Italy. Mount Olivella, which overlooks the town of Sapri, was partially deforested in the mid 1700s, leading to regional flooding that still occurs today. Escif intends to plant 5,000 trees over a 30-acre site near its peak as an environmental art intervention that would be visible from miles away. He’s currently crowdfunding for the project on Indiegogo, with an end goal of €30,000 (~$32,000 US) to cover costs from irrigation to transportation. As of press time, he’s raised over €23,500 (~$25,000 US).

Rendering of “Breath” by Escif, curated by Antonio Oriente and Incipit

“Our goal is to revive Mount Olivella, bringing balance and protecting the environment by planting at least 5,000 new trees,” Escif told Hyperallergic. “So we thought that maybe we should find a way to share a huge global consciousness message with the world, written with those trees.”

That message will be a widely understood, albeit less-than-subtle, one. The trees will be planted in the shape of a battery, creating a peculiar marriage of the natural and man-made worlds. The use of the simple 21st-century symbol, ubiquitous on so many of our devices, seems undeniably effective, quick to convey the idea that we need to recharge our weakening planet so that it can properly function.

If Escif’s campaign is successful, come September he’ll plant 2,500 holm oaks to form the outline and 2,500 maples to fill the interior of the dreaded low-battery signal. If he receives additional funds, he intends to plant anther 2,000 maple trees in 2019 in order to “recharge” the artwork. The trees, of course, will change over the seasons, shifting in form and color as they’re left to grow wild.

Those who donate to the campaign, which ends on April 15, can choose from an array of rewards, including an invitation to help with the planting (travel costs not included), a certificate of adoption for one tree, and a number of original artworks. For one very devoted supporter, there’s the perk of giving back to nature in a unique way: the biggest donation of €20,000 will help you transform your eventual cremains into a living tree — location to be determined, somewhere on a hopefully healthier Earth.

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