why i care

The other Kyle, a/k/a Galileo, asked me to explain the significance of The Gates. I'm no art critic, and I don't want to wade into waters that are better left for others. (Michael Kimmelman writes an appreciation of it here.) But I can tell you why I'm excited about it.

I love public spectacle and public art. I love the communal nature of it, the idea of thousands of different people coming together to experience something joyful or celebratory, or even something solemn. I love the shared aspect of it, the way it binds us to strangers, the way we find ourselves exclaiming to no one in particular. A more typical example of this would be fireworks. The best example I've personally experienced was the Statue of Liberty's birthday party. The best I've ever read about was the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Modern life causes a lot of alienation and disconnection. Opportunities for shared public experience are limited, much less than they were, say, 100 years ago. (This is not nostalgia, just an observation.) So a shared experience of public art is, I think, especially meaningful now.

I love creativity. I love someone conceiving of something new, figuring out how to achieve it, then taking the risk of bringing it out into the world. They face certain criticism and ridicule, as well as the possibility of bringing pleasure and joy. They are willing to risk the former to arrive at the latter.

They don't do it primarily for commercial gain - though it's fine with me if the creator benefits financially, and I always hope they do - but for its own sake. They do it for the challenge of creating, for what they will learn about themselves through the creative process, they do it because they have the need and impulse to create, and for the joy or challenge or emotions it will bring others.

I love big stuff that uses big spaces. Christo, then, is a natural for me.

I love Christo's work, and you know how I feel about New York. So Christo in New York... it's tailor made for me to love.

Christo and Jeanne Claude have been trying to create a work in NYC for decades. (Central Park, our communal backyard, is a natural space for them.) I feel very fortunate to be here to see it. I think of it as a great gift that Christo and Jeanne Claude give to anyone willing to receive it.

Regarding The Gates itself, specifically, I haven't experienced it yet, so I can't say. From photos, I think it looks spectacularly beautiful. But I'll have to wait more than a week to see it first hand, because we'll be out of town next week.


allan said...

Here is a picture of the wrapped Reichstag.

laura k said...

More great photos of that and their other projects are here. It's their official photographer's website.

Kyle Smith said...

Ok, I get it now. I have to say, though, that I've had an interesting mental progression in my understanding of it as I've read your 'blog.

At first mention, before seeing pictures I wasn't sure if it was art or utility, having no clue of the scale of the thing. Now I'm just left wondering if they're temporary or permanant.

The unfortunate (and fortunate!) thing about art is that it's so subjective. A perfectly good piece of art can be loved by some and hated by others. I enjoy art, and while I rarely find something I hate, I'm pretty picky about what I really love. The jury's still out on this one. I suspect the pictures don't do it justice, so I suppose this just gives me one more reason to come visit my friends in the city. :-)

P.S... I'm still "Kyle" but realized that I hadn't ever set my display name to what I use everywhere else ("Galileo"). Hence the change; now you know.

laura k said...

Galileo: definitely temporary. Christo's work is usually up for about two weeks. This one wills stay for 16 days, to encompass three weekends and give more people a chace to experience it.

Central Park is a landmark and an incredibly beloved public part of New York City. Nothing that changes the landscape so completely could ever be permanent.

laura k said...

Also, I'm so pleased my blather brought you a different perspective on this!

From what I've heard, you're right, the photos cannot convey the experience. Unfortunately, unless you're planning to come to New York right now, you won't see it. That's ok, there'll be plenty of wonderful things to see whenever you get here.