The Flourishing Beauty of Ariel Schlesinger’s Interconnected Aluminum Trees
“Trees are people, and people are trees.”
Travel is an opportunity to wander. Often, when I feel safe to do so, I allow myself to become comfortably lost, allowing my feet to lead me down various streets to see what I’ll discover.
When I visited Frankfurt, Germany, my wandering led me along the Main River and past the Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, where I stopped abruptly — as I was suddenly captivated by the large sculpture in the courtyard.
Growing up out of the stone ground, a large cast aluminum tree was tangled in the branches of second tree — like two hands grasping each other—while the second tree hangs suspended upside down in the air. The grey metal of the trees, surrounded by white walls is starkly devoid of color, while the roots reach upward toward the sky, untethered and seeking some ground in which to root itself.
It’s an beautiful, dynamic, and evocative image — and I immediately wanted to learn more about the artist, their work, and how the piece was made.
The untitled sculpture comprised of case aluminum and glass was created by artist Ariel Schlesinger (born in Jerusalem in 1980), who is known for his sculptural, conceptual, and installation works around the world. The piece was selected by the Jüdisches Museum as part of an international art competition and was unveiled on September 18, 2019.
According to the museum, the artist drew on both Jewish history, as well as his own personal history, to come up with the concept for the piece. They note:
The idea of making a pair of mirror-image trees into a symbol for the Jewish Museum was inspired by the history of Frankfurt’s Jews and their feeling of being both connected and uprooted. It also goes back to images in various Jewish sources, such as the kabbalistic tree of life that reflects divine creation. An additional point of reference is the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, which describes the special connection between God and the people of Israel using the metaphor of a tree: “And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree…