When it became clear there was a danger that the work would leave the museum, a large group of cicerones, lecturers, and our volunteer hosts and hostesses promptly took the initiative to start a campaign to keep the artwork. The museum enthusiastically supported this spontaneous action and went looking for further financial support. In cooperation with the volunteers, it started a crowd funding initiative to collect the missing sum of €30,000. Under the heading “Help save the Wood Circle!” people are encouraged to become donors. The artwork itself, together with films about the construction and dismantling of the work and interviews with people who took the initiative, are displayed in the exhibition ‘For Eindhoven’ – The City as Muse which is on show up to 8 January 2012.
The people who took the initiative in this campaign are encouraging everyone to help keep the artwork for the public in the Van Abbe collection. They hope to connect people to the work and the museum in an active way. With their contributions, donors take an active responsibility for a public art collection. The volunteers and cicerones organised special campaigns, the proceeds of which will go entirely towards saving the work for the museum. These include walks in nature, information books on the work and the sale of t-shirts and buttons with the text ‘We Saved an Artwork’.
Wood Circle is an early work by the well-known English artist Richard Long, and has been on loan to the Van Abbemuseum since 1977. In the past few decades it has been exhibited many times. The work appeals to many visitors and invites them to think about art, nature and the environment.
The work fills the room and consists of a minimum of 840 tree branches. The branches are placed in an arbitrary pattern in a circle with a diameter of seven metres, taking into account the particular stipulations that Long recorded in a certificate. For example, the branches must be distributed evenly within the circle shape, and longer and shorter, thinner and thicker ones must be placed everywhere . All the branches must also lie as flat on the floor as possible, preferably without touching. This creates an undulating pattern. Every time the work is assembled, it looks a little bit different.
Wood Circle is typical of the artistic climate of the 1970s when artists turned their back on the gallery/studio and performance, body and land art emerged.
At a time when the national government has chosen to cut funding for art and culture, private individuals can really make a difference and show that art is not the ‘subsidy junkie’ the government claims. Crowd funding is an accessible form of participation which gives everyone a democratic voice to support artistic and cultural resources in their immediate environment. The proceeds for the Wood Circle will be recorded by voordekunst.nl; a website in which art projects look for additional funding by private individuals and businesses.