“There’s something artificial about all this wood indoors.”
Urs Twellmann’s artistic praxis is in many respects similar to that of early Land Art: he works almost exclusively in wood, which he mostly transforms into sculptures on site with a chain saw; the finished products are then documented on photographs and simply left behind. The ideas behind all this he develops in his atelier, which he sees more as a laboratory then as a secret locality for artistic production. Twellmann has traveled halfway round the globe to accomplish his works that often vanish just as quickly into the landscape as they emerge from it. In this regard he falls in line with early works by Robert Smithson or Michael Heizer. Even if Twellmann stresses the fact that he does not really feel related to Land Art, he does share with it the aspect of the ephemeral in his works, invisible to a conventional art public.
The work at Kunstraum Dornbirn is for Twellmann a first: he has never before built an installation for an interior space. In his “Forstrevier 3” (forest district 3), the artist worked up 45 solid cubic meters of timber, which in the art business of the 21st century is more unconventional than pure PVC. “Sculpture in modern times,” as it says in the Dictionary of Art Materials, “has chiefly done away with any association with the natural origin of wood, the tree. Joseph Beuys introduced it again, in its felled and healing state and as an actual plant […]. From this point of view, the reversion to its living origin […] is to be seen allegorically as the most important tendency of working wood into artworks in the postwar era.” Twellmann’s starting point is, however, far removed from any escapist glorification of nature. More important to him is the exploration of the material itself, which sometimes takes on playful features.
Thus the way the installation for Dornbirn developed was a game of trial and error. In the 20th century, the presentation of natural material stands in line with a certain tradition. Robert Smithson, for instance, called the indoor installations “non-sites” that consisted of the natural “spoils” that he brought with him from afar. He came to the point as far as the reflective potential goes that comes into being through such a procedure: “What you are really confronted with in a nonsite is the absence of the site. It is a contraction rather than an expansion of scale. One is confronted with a very ponderous, weighty absence. […] There is this dialectic between inner and outer, closed and open, center and peripheral. It just goes on constantly permuting itself into this endless doubling, so that you have the nonsite functioning as a mirror and the site functioning as a reflection.” In its material profusion and owing to the intensive smell of wood, Twellmann’s installation has a greater physical presence than the objects from Land Art or arte povera do in an institutionalized space. With this the auratic empowerment of institutions, which necessarily first make “art” recognizable as such, is negated. Even the title “Forstrevier 3” (in association with the two Dornbirn forest districts) contributes to this: the room is, at least rudimentarily, drawn into a reality that exists outside of art. In this way Twellmann’s installation differs from the often slick staging of a Smithson or a Giuseppe Penone, which again, and more than ever, makes the artwork untouchable.
 For his early works see Steffan Biffiger (ed.), Urs-P. Twellmann. Arbeiten mit Holz. Installationen, Objekte und Interventionen in der Natur, Stämpfli Verlag, Bern 2005; Angelika Kindermann, Urs-Peter Twellmann. 50 Miniaturen, Stämpfli Verlag, Bern 2004, as well as www.twellmann.ch.
 “Heizer’s early works in bleak desert regions include a critique of art. He took the step of carrying out projects outside of the art market and without an audience. In contrast to the traditional artwork, his earthworks are neither transportable nor preservable. In his works nature is much more the shaping force, since the signs of art stamped on the earth eventually disappear.” (Anne Hoormann, Land Art. Kunstprojekte zwischen Landschaft und öffentlichem Raum, Reimer Verlag, Berlin 1996, p. 40f).
 Monika Wagner, Dietmar Rübel, Sebastian Hackenschmidt (eds.), Lexikon des künstlerischen Materials. Werkstoffe der modernen Kunst von Abfall bis Zinn, Becks Verlag, Munich 2002, p. 151.
 “Robert Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell“ in: Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization oft the Art Object, Praeger, New York 1973, p. 88.
 Brian O’Doherty writes of the “ideal gallery“: “So powerful are the perceptual fields of force within this chamber that once outside it, art can lapse into secular status – and conversely. Things become art in a space where powerful ideas about art focus on them.” Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube. The Ideology of the Gallery Space, The Lapis Press, Santa Monica, San Francisco 1986, p. 6.