Bulgarian artist Christo has transformed Lake Iseo in Italy into a canvas for his latest masterpiece: The Floating Piers. The 3km walkway spans across the lake that connects Sulzano, Monte Isola and the island of San Paolo. The modular floating block system is made up of more than 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes, covered in more than 100,000 square metres of orange fabric. The orange fabric will transform, as it interacts with light and water, to become shades of red and gold.
The Floating Piers was first conceived in 1970 by Christo and his late wife, Jeanne Claude. Many of the couple’s projects have dealt with the fluidity of water and the sturdiness of the Earth. The play between these two elements had been in the back of their minds for many years. The couple created some of the most visually breathtaking works of the 20th and 21st centuries. Their masterpieces include Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, The Gates in New York’s Central Park, Surrounded Islands in Miami, Wrapped Roman Wall in Rome, and many more. This is the first project that Christo has completed without his late wife.
The Floating Piers floats approximately 50cm above the water and undulates as the currents sweep underneath it. Just like the rest of Christo’s masterpieces, The Floating Piers is open to the public and free for anyone to experience. Christo describes the piers as extensions of the streets and they belong to everyone. The sensation of walking on the walkway is said to be like walking on the back of a whale.
These installations often involve large structures like buildings and bridges that are completely covered in fabric. A single project takes decades of planning, with years of getting permission, and hundreds of workers. Each installation lasts only a few days, after which all materials used are recycled.
Christo’s works are as nomadic as the people who come to experience them first-hand. They appear briefly at some point in time, then almost too soon they are gone.