Thursday 23 February 2012

Will a lawsuit prevent Land artist Christo from draping the Arkansas river?

Wolfgang Volz's photograph of a 1992 drawing from Christo's
"Over the River" project for the Arkansas river in Colorado 

Christo and his wife, Jeanne Claude, requested  twenty years ago  to U.S. Federal Authorities to realize their project called “Over the River”, which consists in draping with aluminum-coated fabric approximately 10 km over 67 km stretch of the Arkansas river in Colorado. 

The project website shows that plans are to display the fabric for two weeks by August 2014. In order to cover the cost of this project, which will be around USD 50 million, the artist intends to pay for it through the sale of original artwork linked to the exhibition.

This project is strongly challenged by an environmental group called “Rags over the Arkansas River” which filed a lawsuit on February 1, which targets the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which approved the project. The plaintiff argues that this project would mostly benefit outsiders and diminish Colorado’s wild life and nature: indeed, for at least two years, there will be drilling holes in the canyon to place rock-bolts and anchors to hold the drape in place, with potential negative effects on animals as: bats, birds and sheep. Therefore, the organization deems the project must be considered and valued as a massive resource extraction plan under federal law rather than as a work of art.

On the other hand, Christo’s lawyers counter argue that the project will be entirely financed by Christo and would promote Canon City, a part of Colorado where economy is still bad.

British Land artist Chris Drury, who has constructed similar art installations involving nature, questioned Christo’s motivations behind “Over the River" saying that “Any work of art that adversely affects a whole ecosystem has to be utterly thoughtless, ego-driven statement which I would condemn, Land or Earth art can effectively question how we live and relate to our fragile planet. I am not sure that such questions have ever concerned Christo”.

What do you think? Do you think that potential harm to wildlife and nature outweighs the artistic benefit of Land art?


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Chris Drury over this point. How can we justify such an event taking place that seems purely. Ego driven and thoughtlessly in neglect of how local people would interact with and most importantly how much destruction this project would cause with the structure standing in situ for two entire weeks!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I don't understand his obsession for wrapping. What I think is that he should wrap his huge ego in a plastic and keep it to himself. And please do leave our rivers and islands alone.