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Some impressions of Christo World in Central Park. Walking briskly under the nylon-draped "gates" gives you the feeling you are under a low canopy or awning. The indoor experience of walking through tunnels and hallways morphs strangely with the outdoor experience of walking through open greenery (or brownery, since it's winter now). This is actually not a good thing. Because of the gates' slick fabrication, you feel as if the park had been rented to demonstrate some newfangled, all terrain, corporate convention habitrail system (shades of George Bush's request for a special platform so his feet would never have to touch the dirt of another New York park--Eisenhower, in Nassau County). This might work if the Christos had any sense of irony or self-awareness, but from their interviews they, or at least J-C, the mouthpiece, are tres earnest that it's all about "feeling." Also, the concept of an artificial second layer hovering over the park's rustic walkways fails due to compromises with the Park board. You're walking through an orange tunnel and it suddenly sputters out to accommodate a series of trees that couldn't be trimmed, or abruptly dumps you into one of Olmsted's large open, rock strewn spaces where a bunch of loose gates stand around without any sense of rhythm, solidity, or purpose. The Christos weren't allowed to dig post holes for the gates, and the concrete "feet" that anchor them are an awkward solution. One has to laugh (good naturedly, of course) at the discretely-inserted shims propping them up to adjust for a path's natural slope. But at the end of the day, bad and corporate-looking as the project is, ya gotta say, "damn, they did a lot of work!"

Below is a sculpture by Ross Knight, the "Un-Christo," at the Sculpture Center last year. Knight was allowed to dig into the earth, paradoxically making his work both more ephemeral and more integrated with its surroundings (see link for how all this worked), and his project succeeds, at least in part, because he accepts the modest scale and doesn't succumb to any urges to sit heavily and selfishly on his fellow humans. He also has a sense of humor.

More discussion of the evil Christo and Jeanne-Claude on this ridiculously long (but not ridiculous) thread on Sally McKay's page. Surprisingly many people have stepped forward both here and there to defend the Christos! (This post has been edited slightly.)

- tom moody 2-16-2005 2:27 am [link] [11 comments]