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“The Floating Piers” by Christo transforms Lake Iseo into an artwork

Place: Lago d'Iseo - Lake Iseo, Country: Italy
Project: Christo and Jean-Claude
Project Director: Germano Celant
Operations Manager: Vladimir Yavachev
Project Manager: Wolfgang Volz
Registrar/Curator: Josy Kraft
Chief engineer: Vince Davenport
Text by Riccardo Bianchini
All images courtesy of Christo and Jeanne-Claude
http://christojeanneclaude.net/

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 03

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, June 18 through July 3
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

“Floating Piers” by Christo transform Lake Iseo into a giant artwork

What about walking from island to island on a 16-meter / 50-foot wide network of golden piers which flow on the waters of one of the most dramatic lakes in Northern Italy?
Starting from June 18, for 16 days, people visiting the Lake Iseo, 100 kilometers north of Milan, will have that rare opportunity, furthermore stepping on one of the most spectacular and largest artwork ever conceived by acclaimed artist Christo.

A Bulgarian-born living in New York since 1968, Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, b. 1935) is world-known for his large-scale artworks which turn architectures and landscapes into gigantic pieces of art and create a dialogue between the artist’s mind, the visitors, and the urban and natural environments they encompass.

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake 2016 bird's eye drawing 01

The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy), Drawing 2014 in two parts, Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, hand-drawn map, cut-out photographs by Wolfgang Volz, fabric sample and tape, Photo: André Grossmann © 2014 Christo

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 07

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 12

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, Photos: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake installation

Christo in his studio working on a preparatory drawing for The Floating Piers, New York, November 2015, Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2015 Christo

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake 2016 perpective drawing 03

The Floating Piers, Drawing 2015, Photo: André Grossmann © 2015 Christo

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 08

In 2014, Christo, together with his staff and well-respected art critic Germano Celant as project director, toured northern Italy looking for a lake suitable to become the location of a large floating art installation entitled Floating Piers, and Lake Iseo was eventually chosen as the ideal place.

Located in the prealpine province of Brescia, not far from Milan, with an area of about 65 square kilometers (24 square miles) Lake Iseo is the smallest of Lombardy’s “big lakes”, and far less known than lakes Garda or Como; yet its intimate character, the mountains surrounding it and the beautiful islands in its middle (Montisola, roughly meaning “mount-island”, and the tiny islands of San Paolo and Loreto) makes its perhaps the most mysterious and dramatic of all major Italian lakes.

Iseo Lake Italy general view Christo Floating Pier

Lake Iseo with the town of Sulzano in the foreground, the island of Monte Isola in the center and the island of San Paolo on the left, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake 2016 perpective drawing 02

The Floating Piers, Collage 2014, Photo: André Grossmann © 2014 Christo

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 01

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

With Floating Piers, Christo gives the visitors the uncommon opportunities to walk on water, experience an artwork by moving to and fro it, and create unconventional perspectives on the lake, its villages, and surroundings.

The giant installation comprises a 4.5 kilometers / 2.8 miles long walkway covered with 70,000 square meters of orange-yellow fabric; about two-third of the path are made of piers floating on water.

The piers, connected through ropes to a series of underwater concrete anchors positioned on the lake bed about 90 meters below the water surface, are made of 200,000 high-density recyclable polyethylene modules.

The fabric with which piers and land paths are covered is a special textile produced by the German manufacturer Setex.

Christo testing Floating Pier Iseo Lake 2016

October 2015, Christo testing the floating modules and how the piers undulate with the movement of the waves, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Polyethylene cubes Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake

The high-density polyethylene cubes were manufactured over a period of eight months at a factory in Verbania, on the Lake Maggiore, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake underwater concrete anchor

A diver connects a rope to one of the anchors which keep the piers in place, March 2016
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Floating Pier Iseo fabric manufacturing Setex

The manufacturing process of the orange-yellow fabric at Setex, Greven, Germany, August 2014, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake 2016 perpective drawing 04

The Floating Piers, Drawing 2014 in two parts, Photo: André Grossmann © 2015 Christo

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 10

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The floating blocks are fastened to steel frames, connected to one another with special joints designed to allow the piers oscillate up and down accordingly to the wavy movement of the lake.

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake steel frame supports

One of the steel frames is going to be attached to the underside of the floating elements , April 2016, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The piers connect the lakeside in the village of Sulzano to the island of Monte Isola, and from here reach the small island of San Paolo, which will be entirely encircled by a floating platform.

Christo-Floating-Pier-Iseo-Lake-2016-plans

Two maps indicating the fabric on pedestrian streets in Sulzano and in Monte Isola

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 06

Some 11,000 people can access the artwork simultaneously, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 02

The installation also encompasses the narrow streets of the villages of Sulzano and Montisola, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The project is entirely funded by Christo himself, who expects to cover its costs of about 10 million euros (11.3 million US dollars) through the sale of his artworks.

Italian newspapers report that some seven hundred thousand visitors are expected in the two weeks during which the installation will be open, and that all hotels nearby are sold-out.

As anticipated, the installation “Floating Piers” is open to the public, free of charge, from June 18 through July 3, 2016.

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 04

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Floating Pier Iseo Lake 2016 perpective drawing 06

The Floating Piers, Drawing 2015 in two parts, Photo: André Grossmann © 2015 Christo

Christo artwork Lake Iseo 2016 The Floating Piers 11

The “floating pier” running around the island of San Paolo, Photo: Wolfgang Volz


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