Monday, September 20, 2010

Christo's "Over the River" Project

It's been more than a decade since Christo and Jeanne-Claude (who passed this summer) first selected a stretch of the Arkansas River Canyon in central Colorado for their project. The plan?
To suspend sections of translucent silvery fabric over portions of the river within a thirty-mile section.
The obstacles? Chiefly the Bureau of Land Management, which has demanded study after study of the installation and its impacts. It was easier to get permission to wrap the Reichstag!

As we see anytime someone wants to step beyond usual expectations, there's been a lot of uninformed opposition -

Oh, the traffic will be terrible! (maybe traffic will be slowed down, so people will take a look at something they've never seen)

Oh, it will be like putting a lid on the river! (the translucent fabric invites the eye through its shimmer, to the canyon walls, clouds and sky)

Oh, it will be ugly! (the proposed material is beautiful)

Oh, it will be destructive! (Christo has placed his art in the midst of nature for decades - his creations and the natural world enhance one another)

Oh, it's a gimmick to make him rich! (all his projects are self-supporting)

These objections all add up to: Oh, it won't be like anything we've ever seen - yikes! (true, except the fear part)

There's also been support, from artists, and from people who agree that works of art open our beings in ways we cannot calculate ahead of time. In an era when much of what we do has predictable outcomes, we need these surprises.
Christo's not proposing a re-hash of something he already did, or that anyone else ever has done.

The essence of art is that it gives us a new look at something we think we know, and by seeing it in a changed way, understanding it differently.

I hope Over the River wins approval, and if/when it does, I plan to be one of the many volunteers who put the structures in place.

1 comment:

  1. Uninformed opposition?! Unless you currently live in the area between (not including) Canon City and Salida, you have NO IDEA how potentially life-threatening or disruptive this project could be to local residents and wildlife that would have to tolerate this project for 5+ years. When accidents occur in the canyon, traffic STOPS--it doesn't just "slow down". And when traffic stops, lives are in danger. They can't just "go down to Main Street, take a left and then a right" to avoid the traffic snarl. It's a 3 hr detour that could be the difference between life and death.