So, yeah, today I went to Central Park to check out The Gates: 1979—2005 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Visually it's actually quite amazing, though not in a way which is easy to capture on film (or on CCD, as the case may be), though of course many have tried. Being surrounded by these wispy veils which all behave synchronously but individually because of every gust of wind is somehow captivating, and the way that things simply line up and cause all sorts of interesting patterns just, well, resonates with me, from an aesthetic standpoint, enough so that I filled up both of my memory cards with 227 photos and a 45-second video clip. (As soon as I got home I pared it down to 37 photos thanks to iPhoto's wonderful interface, plus one large panorama and the video clip.)
Christo's philosophy is almost maddeningly humble. He doesn't claim that there's any meaning in his work aside from whatever meaning the viewers want to ascribe to it, and he paid for the entire construction and installation and so on out of his own pocket, to the tune of $21 million, which he supposedly got by selling drawings and collages, and which he spends mostly on his large, environment-involving, ephemeral art installations. It's also hard to decry him for spending so much money on something so "worthless" when he believes in it so heavily — he feels that by having such an exhibit which involves the public and which is totally free for them (not even costing one cent in tax money) and so on will help to bring everyone together and unite them in harmony.
I don't suppose he tried telling that to any of the panhandlers in the park who got angry at every passerby who didn't give them any money or buy their stolen candy which they were selling for their "baseball team," but they probably don't even see it as art so much as an opportunity to hit up even more targets.
On that note, sometimes I wonder if I could get an extremely rich, artistically-minded benefactor to help make my body a work of art. I mean, I certainly wouldn't mind bringing this self-image onto my real-world image.
I think the most amazing part of The Gates is that 7500 of these identical gates had to be constructed and placed, only to exist for only two weeks after the unfurling of the sails. On February 27, they are all to be dismantled. I wonder what will become of them.