2024 Hollenegg, Austria Wood Land at Schloss Hollenegg for Design Bark Beetle infested Norwegian Spruce, Oak, brass

Partners : Thomas Rauch

Support: Schloss Hollenegg, Dutch Invertual, Holztreff, stimuleringsfonds, holzcluster steiermark

'Wolpertinger' is a sculpture that combines myth and reality to reflect on forest management and climate change, using beetle-infested spruce and oak to symbolize the dynamic and vulnerable interplay within forest ecosystems.

‘Wolpertinger’ presents a thoughtful exploration of the cyclical and interconnected realities of contemporary forest management practices, situated against the escalating impacts of climate change. Born during the Schloss Hollenegg / Dutch Invertual residency, this piece merges myth with fact, embedding local Austrian tradition within a broader, global narrative.

Sculpted from beetle-colonized Norwegian spruce and sturdy oak, the artwork personifies a local mythical creature - half bark beetle, half deer - to illustrate the cyclical interplay between various actors in the forest ecosystem. The body, shaped from blue-tinged spruce scarred by bark beetle infestations, embodies the equilibrium between nature’s resilience and vulnerability, as creatures like deer weaken trees, paving the way for opportunistic insects. The oak antlers symbolize adaptive biodiversity, a response to maintain equilibrium in an ecosystem disrupted by external forces.

Central to ‘Wolpertinger’ is the charred aesthetic, achieved through the Shou Sugi Ban technique. Each degree of charring corresponds to a specific year’s intensity of beetle infestation, visually emphasizing the rising occurrence of forest fires linked to rising temperatures. In doing so, ‘Wolpertinger’ invites viewers to ponder the precarious interplay of nature as escalating temperatures contribute to more droughts, weaker trees, prolonged beetle reproductive seasons, and increased fire risks. The sculpture is a manifestation of environmental complexities, encapsulating the cyclical dynamics of nature, the impacts of climate change, and the human role within this fragile balance.