die wiese [= the meadow]

catalogue number: hdv 1986.11.
date created: 1986-2018
classification: public art (land art)
medium:
dimensions: 4000 m²
signature and inscriptions: [uninscribed]
edition:
current location: Eschenau/Steigerwald
collecting history:
related works: publication die wiese | the meadow by herman and susanne de vries & marion reissner (concept & photography), published by Peter Foolen Editions : Eindhoven 2013
multiple die wiese | the meadow set of 36 postcards with photographs by Peter Foolen
comment: in 2019 herman de vries decided not to intervene anymore and now the meadow will become part of the Steigerwald
photo/scan: herman and susanne de vries/Lilian Seegers, Amsterdam (1986-2018)
rights & reproduction: herman de vries
extended description
Not far from the house at Eschenau is the meadow/die wiese, a 4000 square metre patch of land purchased by de vries in 1986. A narrow rectangle of uneven ground with rough meadow grasses, mixed shrubs and young trees, it extends into acres of gently undulating arable land from its upper boundary with the edge of a small forest which rises behind it. This is itself but a remnant of the great forest that once covered this area. Once there were many more small meadows around the village, between the forested lands, but the economies of scale determining the farming of the local land, here as in so many other parts of Western Europe, have led to the grubbing out of hedgerows, copses and small orchards, and of the many wild shrubs and trees of all kinds that they sustained in the varied landscape and open countryside in previous times. the meadow was at the time of its purchase simply a demarcated plot continuous with and indistinguishable from the denatured landscape around it.
The agricultural land for miles around Eschenau is now characterless and uniform, the countryside of this part of Bavaria having been subjected, in the universal manner of modern agribusiness, to a reductive regime of highly managed, high-yield, cash-crop production. The large bare fields that surround the meadow are heavily fertilised and treated with pesticides, enabling the farmers to harvest at least three separate cuts of a monocultural commercial hay in the course of the year. de vries observes with some asperity: "the land [around] ... is [liquid] manured and fertilised. it's a strange word, 'fertilised', because fertility is something different from what you achieve with artificial or chemical manure." The grasses in de vries's meadow are cut once a year, and the land is not treated, and 'in becoming poorer it [becomes] richer in plants' as the taller grasses are mown and cannot succeed and eliminate the less robust meadow flowers and herbs.

[passage from: Mel Gooding, herman de vries. chance and change (Thames and Hudson : London 2006) 72-75]

published references
article Michael Fehr, 'herman's wiese. ein museum', in Daidalos 46 (1992) 34-39; translated in English as 'herman's meadow. a museum' (1992).
monograph Mel Gooding, herman de vries. chance and change (Thames and Hudson : London 2006) 72-75.