a tale of a few cities

Christo, Over the River

Christo, moments after I asked whether anybody had ever called him the first wrap artist. Tate Britain, 14.09.2011


Christo, Over the River (Project for Arkansas River, State of Colorado), Drawing 2010 in two parts, 15 x 96″ and 42 x 96″ (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm), Pencil, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, enamel paint, wash, fabric sample, hand-drawn topographic map and technical data (Photo: André Grossmann) © 2010 Christo


Federal regulators on Monday approved a $50 million installation of anchored fabric over the Arkansas River in southern Colorado by the artist Christo, whose larger-than-life vision has divided environmentalists, residents and politicians for years over questions of aesthetics, nature and economic impact.

The project, “Over the River,” will include eight suspended panel segments totaling 5.9 miles along a 42-mile stretch of the river, about three hours southwest of Denver. Construction could begin next year, pending final local approvals, with the goal being a two-week display of the work as early as August 2014.

Christo’s projects — from the wrapping of the Reichstag Parliament building in Berlin in 1995 to “The Gates,” a meandering path of orange awnings through Central Park in New York in 2005 — have often generated heated debate in advance of their creation.

“We are elated,” Christo said. “Every artist in the world likes his or her work to make people think. Imagine how many people were thinking, how many professionals were thinking and writing in preparing that environmental impact statement.” [NYTimes]

This past September, Christo gave a rare talk in London about two works in progress, Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado and The Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates. He talked about the concepts behind these two artworks, and the significant process of production and realisation when working on large-scale environmental artworks. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the 2nd row center, it just so happened that he sat directly in front of me narrating while slides of his projects were projected on stage. He spoke much about the Over the River project but I was most intrigued by The Mastaba project (a monumental artwork, set in the Abu Dhabi desert, to be made of approximately 410,000 horizontally stacked oil barrels). I had always thought The Mastaba had been abandoned so was delighted to hear that it is an artwork still in preparatory stages.

During question time I asked how one might volunteer to work on one of his projects (48:55). He immediately pointed out that everybody working on his projects is paid since you could not fire volunteers. Jeanne-Claude (his now deceased wife), made sure that laboring help was paid 25% above minimum wage. I was amazed at Christo’s energy and level of enthusiasm, being that he is 76 years old.

Artist’s Talk: Christo, Tate Britain, Wednesday 14 September 2011

Claude Collins-Stracensky, The Solar Distiller / Fountains

Posted in Art, artists, environmental art, Sculpture by petercombe on September 28, 2011

Top: Claude CollinsStracensky, Energetic Return Part 1, 2010. Photo: Luigi Acerra
Bottom 2: Claude CollinsStracensky, Solar Distiller/ Fountain2011. Photos: CollectiveField


LA-based Claude Collins-Stracensky takes as his subject the fundamental aspects of the natural world—light, energy, and time—in a practice that embraces a range of mediums.

The Artist is raising funds to construct two public Solar Distiller/ Fountains for this years High Desert Test Sites event which opens October 15 &16 2011. The Solar Distiller / Fountains are a pair of identical glass obelisks that will be placed at different locations in Joshua Tree. The first will be placed in the town of Joshua Tree, and the other on a hiking path deep in the desert.

The ‘fountains’ rethink our understanding and relationship with public sculpture and monument while refining our awareness and relationship with water.  Installed as permanent structures, they will act as markers to the ingenuity and resilience we have for aesthetic adaptation to our environments and circumstances.

Resembling the historical form of an obelisk, the fountains function as public water distillers powered by the sun.  Using the method of vapor distillation, the ‘fountains’ purify liquids such as contaminated water from plastic bottles left in the sun, other “grey waters”, and even human urine are converted into potable H2O.

The top of the obelisk/fountain uses a reflective glass diamond constructed from a two layer food-safe and mirror-coated glass, which will encourage condensation by keeping the top cool, and also allow it to be seen for considerable distances in the desert landscape. The base of the fountains will be clear food-safe glass and will contain a steel “grey water” basin, a collection vessel and a shelf for the vessel to sit above the basin.  All parts will be removable for cleaning and maintenance.  The obelisk structure will stand 44” at its top and with the top removed will enable comfortable adult usage of the components inside.

The design of the ‘fountains’ allows grey water to evaporate from the basin and collect on the inner lid of the sculpture.  The condensed evaporation is collected through gravity and funneled into a cup by the ‘V’ shaped inner lid.  Within an hour or so in desert conditions, a full cup of distilled water can be safely poured into your personal water canteen and drunk.  Instruction glyphs etched on the sculptures side will instruct the user on how to interact and use the ‘fountains’.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION will enable the production and exhibition of two unique glass obelisks, which function as solar water distillers. With your contribution the obelisks will be donated to the Joshua Tree community by CC-S and YOU for permanent public use and display.

However ever big or small, your donation will make a significant difference in seeing this project through to completion, and will stand as a new method of producing public art.  Funds over the goal will go towards stipends for the artist and those assisting with the project, and will help fund ongoing projects by CC-S & CollectiveField.  All donations are tax deductable through USA Projects.

See Video here

Christo talk @ Tate Britain

Posted in Art, artists, Collage, Conceptual Art, environmental art, London, Sculpture, Work on Paper by petercombe on August 17, 2011

Christo, The Mastaba in comparison to the Great Pyramid of Giza (Pyramid of Cheops), Egypt


I’ve booked my ticket to see Christo talk at Tate Britain. Secretly, I’d love a months long gig working on the team with Christo.

New York-based environmental artist Christo gives a rare talk in London about two works in progress, Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado and The Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates. Christo is renowned for his often controversial public artworks carried out with his late partner Jeanne-Claude. These include the monumental wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris, the 24-mile long Running Fence in California, and most recently, The Gates in New York City’s Central Park.

For Over the River, initially conceptualised in 1992, Christo plans to suspend nearly six miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels high above the Arkansas River, along a 42-mile stretch between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado.

The Mastaba has been in development from 1977. This monumental artwork, set in the Abu Dhabi desert, will be made of approximately 410,000 horizontally stacked oil barrels.

In this lecture Christo, who has generously contributed his time, will talk about the concepts behind these two artworks, and the significant process of production and realisation when working on large-scale environmental artworks.

Wednesday 14 September 2011, 18.30–20.00
Tate Britain  Auditorium
£12 (£9 concessions), booking recommended
For tickets book online
or call 020 7887 8888.

%d bloggers like this: