Ecological Art and Agnes Denes' Living Pyramid

Chowaniec Projects was onsite at documenta 14 this week. Documenta is recognized as the world’s most debated not-for-profit exhibition dedicated to contemporary art.  It takes places every 5 years in Kassel, Germany. This year the 100-day exhibition also included a secondary site in Athens.  Expulsion and flight are central themes of the exhibition and with both Greece and Germany wrestling with refugees fleeing conflict, the collaboration strengthens the public engagement of the host institutions and allows a sharing and discovery of their diverse missions and common goals.  The dual sites showcases the role of art and its capacity to denounce, transform and also to heal our world. 

One of the pieces that stood out for us was Agnes DenesThe Living Pyramid. It is a 9-metre pyramid constructed of stacked wooden terraces filled with soil and thousands of living plants. It is a social structure. The planted material conveys ideas of evolution and regeneration; the work also cultivates a micro-society of people responsible for its planting and ongoing care.


Denes was one of the early pioneers of both the environmental art movement and conceptual art.  Still prolific at age 83 she brings her wide ranging interests in the physical and social sciences, mathematics, philosophy, linguistics, poetry and music to her delicate drawings, books and monumental artworks around the globe.

Agnes Denes // Image source:

Agnes Denes // Image source:

“Public art existed all along, but ecological art just naturally grew out of my thinking and writings in that area for years. I didn't get involved in it; I started what then became a movement.”

We found much common ground with her work, the need for self-care in our busy lives and the need for sanctuary to give us space.