Monday, March 7, 2011

pink; surrounded islands

Between 1980 and 1983, something special was happening among artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude and a whole army of people including engineers, seamstresses and marine biologists. That something was a plan to 'wrap' eleven islands in Miami's Biscayne Bay, in 6.5 million square feet of pink woven polypropylene fabric.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been wrapping things since 1969, when their first attempt was to wrap the coast in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia. Since then, they have created a 400 meter curtain in the Rocky Mountains, a 40 kilometer fence in California, wrapped a bridge in Paris and a building in Berlin. They are definitely a result of the hippy movement from the sixties and their ephemeral works draws our attention to the environment and changes our perception of it. The artists do not leave their footprints on the earth with their works, as once the works have been exhibited for a period of time, nothing is left except for photos, drawings and plans created for the project.

So why choose the colour pink to wrap the islands with? Well, why not really! It has been noted that the artists chose pink because it is a Latin colour, to highlight the flora on the actual islands, because it is an "extremely sensitive" colour and so highlights the evironmental issues around these islands and because it reflects the different tones in the earth and water it surrounds. But ask Jeanne-Claude about their work and she states, "Our art has absolutely no purpose, except to be a work of art. We do not give messages." Ahhhh got to love that straight shooting French attitude!

Whatever the reasons Christo and Jeanne-Claude chose pink, I think the aesthetics was a perfect choice and the eventual completion of the project does highlight environmental issues no matter what colour they would have chosen. It is a beautiful project having cleared out some forty tons of varied garbage: refrigerator doors, tires, kitchen sinks, mattresses and an abandoned boat that had been on or around the island. It is definitely a work that was ahead of it's time and a real pleasure to be able to imagine experiencing this feat in 2011, almost 30 years later.

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