August 14, 2006

'Rags over the River' wrap up

"JC" at High Plains Messenger summarizes the problems with Christo's "Over the River" project from both the human and other-than-human viewpoints.

He comes to southern Colorado and "makes nice" to the residents about how his project will fully consider their views and feelings, but I don't trust him. I read a subsequent article, which I wish I could find online, in which during a presentation in Austin, Texas, he basically referred to people here as ignorant hicks who failed to appreciate (his) great art.


phlegmfatale said...

I went to a screening of a documentary on a controversial earlier work by Christo, including lots of film of town meetings and disgruntled local victims of his "art." Mind you, this screening was at a local arts center in Dallas, and almost everyone there (except me) was a professional local artist who makes their living entirely from gallery and art show sales. Except one man, all the rest were agog at the possibility of traveling to "volunteer" for the (slave labor portion) Colorado installation.
I was astonished they could be so vapid as to not care a whit for the conflict of how the locals would be affected by this "art."
Oh, and I also seem to remember that his gigantic umbrella installation in Japan about 10 years ago was a disaster, with people being killed as violent winds unearthed the umbrellas and sent them hailing down on a nearby motorway.
I'd say while legislators are busying themselves preventing children from playing with squirtguns, they should lift a finger to prevent deadly and environmentally irresponsible "art." Humbug.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Salida, I think that Christo's alleged remark about the residents of southern Colorado being ignorant hicks when it comes to art is reasonable, if not artful. :) If you could show me that better than one in ten people off the street can distinguish a Magritte from a Matisse, I'll eat my hat. ;)

What's more pertinent, I suppose, is that we tend to be parochial, insular, and conservative as a bunch, distrustful of outsiders and slow to embrace new ideas. Frankly, I'm surprised that OTR seems to have as much support as it does.

And "environmentally irresponsible" art? Perhaps. But for folks who don't know the area, we're talking about a river that has a highway on one side and a railroad on the other through a canyon that has seen mining activity for a hundred years or more. The flow is dam-regulated, the fish are stocked by state fisheries, and the waterway sees thousands upon thousands of recreational and commercial boaters every year. It's hardly pristine.

And dare I suggest that anti-OTR folks show up for a river cleanup weekend now and again?

What really gets my goat, though, is that OTR attracts so much attention while other, more serious (and more complicated) issues get so little airtime.

Humbug indeed.

Chas S. Clifton said...


This sounds a little bit like the spinach theory of art:

"Eat your art. It's good for you. If you don't eat your art, no dessert for you!"