Thinking Forest is a radically sustainable exhibition space, where ecology, contemporary art and science meet in a production forest. The double meaning of ‘Thinking Forest’ points to both the natural wisdom of the forest as an ecosystem and a place to think, reflect and learn; an organic model for the development and the spreading of seedling ideas. Within the forest, art and wood production, decay, biodiversity, science and a public program come together. Thus the notion of ‘production forest’ can be reimagined as beneficial to all nature, humans included, instead of nature’s submission. 

Thinking Forest is an initiative of artist Gerbrand Burger and it is realized by the Thinking Forest Foundation.





Mission

Thinking Forest's mission is to connect ecology with art and science, with a holistic and regenerative approach. Thinking Forest creates the conditions for a forest in which biodiversity increases, the soil improves and art and science have a natural place.

How

The foundation aims to improve soil and biodiversity by applying nature-oriented, regenerative forest management. This type of forest management gives the forest floor as much rest as possible for an enriched soil life and guarantees a lively forest for the long term, with trees of all ages and sufficient dead wood, so it can adjust to the major changes in the climate.

Thinking Forest uses harvested wood from the forest for the production of art. The art projects presented in Thinking Forest take the possibilities of the forest into account and show a strong awareness of production method and use of materials. The artworks show what a sustainable and healthy art world could look like. Thinking Forest aspires to a good relationship with the local economy and community. When planting, useful species are therefore taken into account so that the forest grows products that meet local an regional needs.

In 2024 the Thinking Forest program will be hosted by Landgoed Welna in Epe, The Netherlands. From 2026 Thinking Forest aims to work from its own 20 hectare forest in The Netherlands. 

Origin of the idea

Initiator and visual artist Gerbrand Burger was educated at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and the School of Visual Arts and Cooper Union in New York. He participated in the post-academic program of De Ateliers in Amsterdam. In 2015 he built his own wooden house in Amsterdam, which made him realize that working with wood and with his own hands should be central to his artistic practice; since then he has been working as a sculptor and mainly with wood. In 2017, Gerbrand was initiator and co-founder of cooperative Square 28, with which he realized a newly built artist studio complex in Amsterdam. 

The idea for Thinking Forest stems directly from his work as an artist: after moving his studio to the new cooperative, he realized that it is simply untenable to continue producing sculptures that accumulate in the studio. He decided to work with wood from the region and place sculptures back in the forest after they are displayed. His desire to work in closer contact with trees and forests gave him the idea of growing and harvesting his own material, and the idea subsequently grew into Thinking Forest, which, in addition to supplying the material for art projects, also shows works by other (inter)national artists, and stimulates, facilitates and disseminates ideas, debate and ecological knowledge through publications.

While reading, researching and talking to specialists about trees and forest management, Gerbrand became aware of the importance of long term thinking, what Roman Krznaric calls cathedral thinking, and the need to integrate human (economic) activity with an increasingly healthy and resilient forest ecology. Instead of reading more and talking more, Burger felt the immediate urge to do something for real, with actual trees and people, and to make sure that long term thinking becomes long term acting. 



Artistic director

Gerbrand Burger
Visual artist


Board
Marjolein van der Loo
Visual artist, curator, lecturer-researcher Zuyd Hogeschool (chair)

Jorgen Karskens
Project manager and developer Civic Interaction Design Hogeschool van Amsterdam (treasurer)

Tom Helmer
Programmer and dramaturge Theater Bellevue (secretary)


Advisory Board
Iwan Baan
Photographer

Emma Johnson
Fundraiser Kröller Müller Museum

Pieter Ligthart
Consultant Russell Reynolds Associates senior level board/CEO search

Reyn van der Lugt
Former director of the Groninger Museum and cultural attaché New York, advisor to cultural organizations, art collector

Dr. Ute Sass-Klaassen 

Dendrolab Forest Economy and Management WUR, lectorate Sustainable Forest Management Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences

Winfred Voordendag
Interim management, strategic advice, executive search cultural sector


ANBI
Stichting Thinking Forest Foundation is a cultural ANBI Foundation


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