"Everybody here is a part of my work"


“The work is not only the fabric, the steel posts, and the fence. The art project is right now here. Everybody here is part of my work.”

Christo, at a Marin (or Sonoma) county zoning hearing for the construction of Running Fence, 1976.

From a film about the project:

[Waitress, making hamburger patties]: 

If you just look at it, the poles and the guide wires, it looks nifty, because it just swirls and turns and dips. And when he gets his curtain on it… it’s not pretty in the sense of pretty… it’s different, and it looks kind of nifty, this thing just winding all around. I imagine to some extent it is attractive. I just think the poles winding, you know, around the natural contour of the land is … it’s not pretty in the sense of pretty: it’s nature pretty. 

Customer: He’s the one who put that across some canyon and the wind blew it down or something like that?

Waitress: Colorado. 

Customer: Yeah.

Waitress: He says if it stays up one day - - the whole thing - - he’ll be happy. Can you imagine? One day? 

Customer: Three million dollars?

Waitress: I don’t know how many years he just toured all over the coastline. California, Oregon, the whole coastline. And he finally decided on this one little area he decided was the most beautiful area in the whole coastline. 

Customer: Is that right?

Dialogue and stills from Running Fence, a documentary by Albert and David Maysles. 

I’m working my way through a boxed set about Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s public projects. There’s a lot of cheap talk about “engagement” in museums, the arts, culture… But Christo takes it to people where they live. Christo is the master.