Journal

WALKING ON WATER

The Floating Piers

On Saturday The Floating Piers, the first project completed by Christo since his wife, Jeanne-Claude, died in 2009, opened to the public at Lake Iseo in northern Italy.

Like most projects by the artists, The Floating Piers took a long time to realize; Christo and Jeanne-Claude conceived the project in 1970.

The yellow fabric is reminiscent of the last large-scale artwork pulled of by Christo and Jeanne-Claude: 2005’s The Gates in New York’s Central Park.

The temporary installation at Lake Iseo is made up of “100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes [that] undulate with the movement of the waves as The Floating Piers rise just above the surface of the water,” per the artist’s website.

The 16-meter-wide, 3-kilometer-long piers connect the town of Sulzano with the island of Monte Isola and the tiny island of San Paolo, which is wrapped by the yellow walkway on all sides.

More than 55,000 people attempted to cross the piers on opening day, though The Floating Pier was evacuated in the evening due to wind and rain.

The walkways can hold 11,000 visitors at any one time, with organizers hoping for a total of 500,000 by the time the installation is dismantled and recycled on 3 July 2016.

It’s really a physical thing, you need to be there, walking it, on the streets, here,” Christo said. “And it’s demanding.” The route, which laps around the small island of San Paolo, also includes pedestrian areas in the towns of Sulzano, on the mainland, and Peschiera Maraglio, on Monte Isola, an islet rising out of the lake.

The project, he said, “is all this” — the piers, the lake, the mountains, “with the sun, the rain, the wind, it’s part of the physicality of the project, you have to live it.”