In Odd Performance Project, Artist Travels World Literally Whipping Nature and Monuments (Video)

© Julius von Bismarck

This is probably one of the... oddest nature-related art projects we've covered here on TreeHugger. In an effort to recreate a pre-Christian account of a furious pharoah faced with a natural disaster, German artist Julius von Bismarck travelled the world, literally whipping nature and the monuments he comes across, recording the acts in a series of photographs and videos.

© Julius von Bismarck

On exhibition at Berlin's Alexander Levy Gallery along with the whips he used, von Bismarck's "Punishment I" refers to an old story of Egyptian Pharoah Xerxes ordering the punishment of the strait at Hellespont with 300 lashes of the whip, after storms destroyed bridges that had been built there.

From October to December 2011, von Bismarck travelled from Switzerland, South America and the United States armed with a whip and re-enacted this "allegorical anger" on various sites.

© Julius von Bismarck

Part site-specific performance, part historical recounting, Von Bismarck's images depict a re-framing an almost abusive, dominating relationship with nature -- but at the same time, in the context of civilization and its monumental follies, there's a provocative message about the timeless defiance of the individual in the face of collective oppression, says the curators:

At impressive locations he plays with the rhetorical power of this traditional retaliation, whipping nature, defying its power, until he is exhausted. In a contemporary context, he thus rebels against socialization and, as a modern Sisyphus, questions value patterns which are conveyed to people today by societal constructs and authorities.

© Julius von Bismarck

In a time when severe natural disasters and weird weather are becoming more frequent, this project compels one to wonder at what our individual and collective response in the face of this unpredictability should be: knee-jerk rage or constructive collaboration? More information and images over at Alexander Levy Gallery and the artist's website.

Tags: Artists | Arts | Germany | Natural Disasters | video

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