|Photo by Wikipedia user Delaywaves, CC BY 3.0|
I was also intrigued by the fact that Christo and Jeanne-Claude set up gates, rather than just flags or banners of some sort. It's almost as if part of the power of this art installation lies in the fact that the viewer goes through something, from one world to another, like walking through a wardrobe into Narnia or a portal to another dimension. And as a result, the installation has an emphasis on liminality that wouldn't otherwise exist, further connecting it to the fantastic.
|Photo by Morris Pearl, CC BY-SA 3.0|
The liminal nature of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work is further emphasized by its temporary nature. The Gates was up for less than a month--all of the rest of their works have been temporary as well. This impermanence of these works, along with their grand scale, makes them seem, in the words of one of my students, "surreal." He said this as a particular reference to perhaps my favorite installation of theirs--The Umbrellas, a project that spanned an ocean. Huge umbrellas were set up in two countries: 1340 blue umbrellas in Japan and 1760 yellow umbrellas in California. Here's a link to pictures of the umbrellas in both countries.
I read somewhere that Christo said something about how his art was particularly courageous because he knew it wasn't going to last forever. I like that. I like the idea of embracing beauty, however fleeting, and working to bring delight and wonder into the world, if only for a moment.
By Jen Miller