Long-term art projects LTAP: What can art do for the future?
In June 2022 stewards of several long-term art projects started collaborating. Through their mutual support they strive to help each other to fulfill their main purpose: continue their projects through their full term, or in some cases for as long as possible. They hope to foster responsibility towards future generations and to inspire each generation to reduce the risks to the existence of human life and civilizations.
The driving question behind this intergenerational collaboration is thus: "What can art do for the future?"
Criteria for LTAPs
- Art work incorporating an explicit duty to be continued
- Set up to be performed, developed, built or actively maintained for 100+ years
- Requiring continued involvement of successive generations of human stewards
- Open and accessible, not for profit, for public benefit, preferably engaging members of the public in some way
- Well established (running for 5+ years)
The LTAP include so far the following projects:
7000 Eichen (7000 oaks)
Letters of Utrecht
The Letters of Utrecht is a monument to the future. An ever-growing poem in the stones of the pavement along the Oude Gracht of Utrecht, The Netherlands, which is extended every Saturday at 1 pm with a next numbered letter in the next stone. Each new stone is paid for with a donation, the donor in question can leave a message by means of an engraved text in the side of the stone. Every three years a new poet is asked to complete the poem for about three years. This creates an always unfinished poem that grows as long as there are Saturdays: 2023 began with stone no. 1202. Stone no. 6389 is held by the Centraal Museum for a letter to be engraved in it and placement in the poem in the street next to the museum on 6 June 2122.
Longplayer is a musical composition that plays continuously without repetition for 1000 years, and is most vitally a space for the imagination, inspiring conversations, activities and creative responses. Longplayer champions imaginative long-term thinking, connecting us to futures beyond our lifetimes, and working towards the continuity of the music as both a symbol of survival and the possibility of being here at all.
Zeitpyramide (time pyramid)
The Zeitpyramide (time pyramid) is a long term art project by Manfred Laber, situated in Wemding, Germany. The project was started in 1993 to mark Wemding's 1200 years of history. The sculpture has been conceived to express this length of time. Once it is done, the pyramid will consist of 120 concrete blocks measuring 1.2 mtrs x 1.2 mtrs x 1.8 mtrs. It is designed to be built at 10 year intervals, i.e. it will be complete in 1200 years after the setting of the first stone, in the year 3193. Until now, three stones have been set: the first in 1993, the second in 2003, the third in 2013. The fourth stone will be set on September 9, 2023. The design is based on the following calculation, to be found in the conception:
- On the base measuring 13.8 mtrs x 13.8 mtrs there will be a first layer of 8 x 8 blocks = 64 cubes
- The second layer will be one block shorter at the sides, i.e 6 x 6 blocks = 36 cubes
- The third layer will consist of 4 x 4 blocks: = 16 cubes
- The fourth and top layer will consist of 2 x 2 blocks = 4 cubes
- giving a total of 120 cubes
The location of the pyramid is the "Platte", a rounded hilltop on the north edge of the town, popular for its great view over the „Rieskrater“, a great crater originated by the impact of an astereoid. The time pyramid is administered by a foundation, which sees to the settings of the stones and keeps the project in the minds of the population. The challenge is to keep the project running for many generations to come. The project is financed from the interest on a relatively small endowment and relys to a great part on donations. Even though the artist did not fully approve of showing the pyramid in its completed form, one aspect of the project being the agony of not being able to see it done, a model to a scale of 1:20 can be found in "Haus des Gastes" next to the tourist office in Wemding.
Many inspiring examples exist that encourage long-term stewardship, see this collection of long-duration efforts. More projects might join the collaboration, and more are likely to be created by artists around the world, inspiring a sense of obligation to keep future generations safe. Together, the projects can explore ways to ensure continuity of projects but also of societies.