One of Italy’s most interesting and discussed cultural events in 2016 is Bulgarian-born artist Christo’s new massive installation, “Floating Piers”, on Lake Iseo in Lombardy.
This conceptual artist, along with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, is famous for his large-scale environmental pieces. His best known installations are the wrappings of Berlin’s Reichstag, Paris’ Pont-Neuf bridge, the coast of Little Bay in Sydney, Australia, which was the largest single artwork in history, and of course The Gates in New York’s Central Park which we attended in 2005.
From June 18th to July 3rd, the pristine Lago d’Iseo in northern Italy will be thrust onto the international art scene as the site of the artist’s most recent installation, the first project conceived after the death of his wife and collaborator of 47 years and the first in Italy since “The Wall” in Rome in 1974. “The Floating Piers” is a series of floating walkways allowing visitors to stroll above the surface of the water from the lakeside town of Sulzano to the tiny offshore islands of Monte Isola and San Paolo.
The piers will be made of a modular dock system consisting of 200,000 polyethylene cubes covered with 70,000 square meters of bright yellow nylon specially woven in Germany; about 3 kilometers of the installation will float on the surface of the lake, kept in place by 140 five-ton anchors, and another 1.5 kilometers of fabric will continue along pedestrian streets in Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio.
Work has already begun on the project, with the artist putting out a call for 500 workers to staff and maintain the installation this summer. About a half-million people are expected to visit “The Floating Piers” during its fleeting two week life, and the project, funded with proceeds from the sale of Christo’s art, is estimated to have cost about €9 million. After the exhibition, all components will be removed and recycled.
Though the installation will only be accessible for a limited time, the rare opportunity to experience one of this aging artist’s monumental works is worth the trip!