Art finding: Inflatable Air Package by Christo & Jeanne-Claude

© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo

Big Air Package
Gasometer Oberhausen – Germany
…until December 30, 2013

young-jeanne-claude-and-christo

One common day: June 13, 1935. Two different places: Bulgaria and Morocco. One great partnership that will last ’til death do us apart.

In a nutshell, this could be the story of Christo Vladimirov Yavachev (Gabrovo, June 13, 1935) and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon (Casablanca, June 13, 1935 – New York, November 18, 2009), simply known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The artist and the organizational mind. Two souls meeting in Paris, falling in love, escaping the horrors of the war (and post) in Europe and finding shelter in USA.

They are famous for their environmental works of art, mainly on a large and very large scale – just try to imagine the Reichstag in Berlin all wrapped up… or Pont-Neuf in Paris. Simply amazing.

© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo
© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo

Big Air Package falls into the same category of awe and revery. It is one of those things you would never expect. One of those that simply …oooh!
We read from the artists’ website:The sculpture is installed inside the Gasometer. It is made from 20,350 square meters (219,000 square feet) of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) of polypropylene rope. The inflated envelope is 90 meters (295 feet) high, with a diameter of 50 meters (164 feet), a volume of 177,000 cubic meters (6,250,000 cubic feet) and a total weight of 5,300 kilograms (11,700 pounds).”

Basically a monster, a non-natural wonder and an experience. Built in one of the largest gas tank in the world, the gasometer was built in the early ’30 and the project for the construction of the air package was conceived in 2010 (the artists’ last air package was erected at documenta IV in Kassel in 1968).

© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo
© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo

The package itself is self supporting  – huge fans exercise constant pressure inside – and it is nearly filling the whole space inside the gasometer. A thin cavity allows the visitor to explore the balloon also from the outside, whilst some airlocks allow entrance to the immense bright space.

© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo
© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo

If you wouldn’t have paid a ticket (but very popular price), you would think you are in a meta-dream. Or perhaps that you are having an epiphany. All is silent and calm inside, all is white and soothing. It is a cathedral of air, a place of worshiping, where promises can be made and infused in the profusion of diffused light.

I was not lucky enough to see some of the most amazing works this duo has made throughout their career and this is one of the first works Christo has done after Jeanne-Claude’s sudden death (during their life, they were always traveling on separate planes, so that in case of crush, the other could have continued the work!), but this is still on – for everyone’s enjoyment – until year end.

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