It's not a metaphor, rather Austria's “largest ever art project”. For two months in 2019 football team Austria Klagenfurt is barred from the stadium because a forest of 200 trees will be planted inside.
It's been the talk of town for months in Austrian media and further controversy around the infamous Euro 2008 host, Wörthersee Stadion. By initiative of artist Klaus Littmann, the stadium's green field will soon be replaced by a small forest.
The project named For Forest is considered Austria's largest art installation, enough for organisers to launch guidelines on how to travel to the destination from international airports. What for? In order to admire nature. It's been Littmann's long-standing dream to recreate a famous Austrian sketch by Tyrolean native Max Peintner, which you can see below:
Titled “The unbridled attraction of nature”, the piece is a dystopian image of future world, in which nature is so scarce that people flock to stadiums in order to see it. The sketch depicts Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna but the project could not be delivered there, so Littmann approached the city of Klagenfurt.
In fact, he has been campaigning for it for several years now. Klagenfurt is a perfect deastination for him because of picturesque landscape and... the stadium being a white elephant. While it has a nominal host, Austria Klagenfurt, the team is drawing just over 600 people per game in a 32,000-seat facility.
Still, the idea of planting actual trees on a football field proved beyond comprehension of many commentators and simply further proof of the €100-million stadium having been a huge mistake in the first place. The criticism is only somewhat mitigated by the fact that the project is promised to be financed entirely privately. Its cost was initially expected to be within €1.5 million, now is reported to be within a €2 – 2.2 million range.
Trees for For Forest have been selected quite some time ago, they're growing in a nursery at the moment. In upcoming weeks, in spring, they will be transported to the Klagenfurt area and in August installation at the stadium will be in full swing. This way opening of the exhibition can take place on September 8. Afterwards the stadium will be open for free to everyone between 10am and 10pm, ending on October 31.
While the event's calendar clashes with Austria's football schedule, it was selected in order for visitors to see the trees' leafs turn yellow and red. A selection of 200 trees was made, their species (beech, maple, winter lime, bird cherry, conifer) differing in autumn appearance significantly. Logistically it's a challenge because the smallest trees are expected to be 10 meters, the largest at some 14 meters tall.
This image is not official, it's our mockup of how it might look.