forest semiotics

Dalibor Martinis’ Forest Semiotics consists of three forest projects, realized in the period of 2006-2022. The author draws upon nature as the settings for his interventions where artist’s actions are creating new narratives and offering new perceptions of forest identities.

Park of Newlyweds

(Park mladenaca)

Tree marking action, 2006

The idea for ​​the Zagreb park was to invite newlyweds to plant a tree on the grounds as a symbol of love that will grow and develop. The first tree was planted in 1967 and with each new marriage, the park grew. The names of the newlyweds were entered in the park book and they were also invited to attend the planting of the trees. 

The city project lasted from 1967 to 1978 and in that period about 8,000 young trees were planted. This seemingly natural forest today is in fact a social construct. But as time went on and the forest grew, it turned out that more and more marriages were breaking up. I concluded that we should not close our eyes to such a reality, so in 2006 I marked some trees with a “forestry” sticker – a demolition sign on which the arguments for such an action were stated. By tearing down marked trees of broken up marriages, the idealised Newlyweds Park would become a natural forest in which the growth and extinction of trees accompanies the relationship between marriage and divorce.


Series of painted photographs, 2019

The photographs with painted elements are studies for Sljeme project of interventions with forest signs on tree trunks as a commemoration of Nietzschean walks in the hills practiced by Praxis in the 1960s and 1970s. The founders of the famous Marxist philosophical journal Praxis (1964) were Branko Bošnjak, Danko Grlić, Milan Kangrga, Gajo Petrović, Rudi Supek, Predrag Vranicki, Danilo Pejović and Ivan Kuvačić. The project is realized in practice by walking  the same paths. By re-painting the signs that only foresters understand and leaving them on the selected trees, each marked trunk acquires a new aesthetic and artistic dimension.

Can’t see the trees for the forest (Od šume ne vidim drveće)

The painting of trees, 2021-2022

The very south of Istrian peninsula is the location of  Cape Kamenjak. The area between the east and west coast is covered with impassable, wild forests. Some trees are marked with forest signs, but the signifiers are hidden from view, so the question is whether there is that signified at all. Thus, my possible artistic intervention maybe doesn’t exist.

* This group could also include earlier works: Paysage perdu, video installation, 1991; Landscape with the most horrible curses, video installation, 2002 and Variable Risk Landscape, multimedia project, 2004.

Dalibor Martinis (born 1947) is Zagreb – based performance, video and conceptual artist. He graduated from Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1969 and was associated with the New Art Practice. Martinis exhibited at The Venice Biennial, Bienal de São Paulo and documenta in Kassel. His artworks are found in major institutional collections such as The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Stedeljik Museum, ZKM Karlsruhe and Kontakt/Erste Bank.