Often critics comment on the technique, the style, the grandeur of a work of art, and the dramatic and arduous so-called "artistic process". Rarely, do we study or observe how art is shaped by legal and environmental restrictions, community resistance, and bureaucratic red tape. However, unlike a painting where an artist makes choices based on subjective decisions, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s latest planned installation Over the River appears more akin to the construction of a bridge or dam that is shaped by government agencies, public hearings, and environmental protests. By venturing outside of the museum and gallery space, and dipping their toe in the water, their latest project Over the River presents a fascinating case study on the intersection of government, the law, art and the environment that will have ramifications far past the intended two week installation.
Christo first announced the plans to create Over the River in 1995, when he and Jeanne-Claude were in the midst of wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin with silvery fabric and bright blue rope (a project conceived in 1971). They traveled 14,000 miles and considered 89 rivers in the Rocky Mountains before settling on the Arkansas River. This latest exercise in ephemerality seeks to suspend 5.9 miles of gleaming silver semi-translucent fabric panels high above the river, echoing the ebb and flow of the water, and interrupted only by existing bridges, trees, and rocks, with sunshine blinking through the gaps. The installation will run along a 42 mile stretch of the water, between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado, which will be visible from the US Highway 50 and to rafters, canoers, and kayakers underneath.
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