B21F6BB4-1C5E-4341-9402-72115F03EA26 03. March 2021

Art project in Cologne underground station

With her project "Embassy of Trees", artist Ellen Bornkessel brings the forest into Cologne's Neumarkt underground station.

Ellen Bornkessel founded the ‘Embassy of Trees’ in 2018 as a diplomatic representation of the forest in the urban world. To this end, she uses public space and allows photo installations of large forests to appear there abruptly in all their abundance and beauty. In this way, she gives the trees a voice and shows the bond between human and nature. The confusion about the omnipresent greenery in the city, raises questions: ‘What is the forest for in the city or in a public space like an underground stop?’ The installations make visible what we lack and what we destroy. They inspire and motivate more awareness and climate-friendly, sustainable action.

In the new project "Forest Dream", Mega-Lights are used in the highly frequented ‘Neumarkt’ underground station in Cologne's city centre. This temporary artistic intervention is intended to stimulate public debate on the topic of ‘human being and nature’. Forest motifs with the text: DREAM A NEW FUTURE can be seen on all twelve Mega-Lights in the station. Whereas the Embassy used to work with purely photographic installations, it now addresses the viewers directly. The hopeful sentence points to new possibilities in our lives. Especially now. ‘What would happen if we were to transform our society in a sustainable way now?’ The forest appears here in an underground station, a bizarre contextual shift occurs. You get out of the underground and walk directly into the forest. The work is extended here by the aspect of the glow of the Mega-Lights, which makes the motifs appear even more radiant. The mixture of artificial and natural light heightens the effect of nature even more. The fact that the Mega-Lights reach down to the ground creates the effect of being able to walk into the forest for the first time. It creates the feeling of standing in a forest, which makes it possible to feel a connection to nature. At the same time, I find myself in the middle of the city and directly experience the discrepancy between nature and my own life in an urban environment.

In times of pandemic, the work contributes to promoting art and culture in public spaces. The work is also an example of enhancing public space through art and, figuratively, natural greening. 

‘Forest Dream’ is supported by Ströer and NEUSTART KULTUR, Federal Programme of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, BBK- Bundesverband.


Image: Visualisierung "Forest Dream" ©Ellen Bornkessel