34 grande interview you, Jeanne-Claude and you, towards new territories. My little packages, I didn’t sell so many of them! And even though the objects of real life interested me then, it was the real, in its excess, that interested us more. We didn’t want to stop at the “domestic” dimension of our work. In fact, in Milan, for the second exhibition at the time, it was no longer a question of different objects, but of a single package that filled almost the entire gallery, in a way echoing the in rue Visconti in 1962. A few years later, in Chicago in 1969, we no longer wanted to work in the museum that invited us, but offered to wrap the museum itself. Iron Curtain REALITY, IN ITS EXCESSIVENESS When you wanted to wrap the museum itself, I remember that Jan van der Marck said at the time, “The museum as showcase of art was being turned into an art subject itself”. Is it at that point that the reversal took place in a way in your work, that, even more than in previous years, the method was transformed, that the “collaborative” dimension between Jeanne-Claude and yourself found its full development, in short that from being just artists you became entrepreneurs as well? What is it then that begins or ends? Hasn’t the spectacle already started before the work itself is realised? All that you develop around and in the lead-up, the preparatory drawings and collages, the promotion of the project, the communication ... Isn't all this already the project itself, to the point that some people have criticized you for it? « Christo’s Wedding Dress as Worn by Wendy in Christo’s studio ». Ci-dessus / above: New York, 1967. (© Christo ; Ph. Ferdinand Boesch) Ci-dessous / Fondation Beyeler et parc Berower Riehen (Suisse). 1997-98. (© Christo 1998 ; Ph. Wolfgang Volz) «Wrapped Trees ». below: Japan was no doubt at that time the richest country in the world. We had to rent everything. We negotiated with some 462 ricepaddy farms where no one spoke English. So we had to hire translators! We spent $29 million, contracted with the government in Ibaraki, Japan, to plant the 1,340 blue parasols and the 1,760 yellow ones in California for an eighteen-day exhibition. We were confronted with governors, prefectures and all kinds of security services. The project cost us $ 700,000 a day for those security services alone. Everything you describe there, and more, has never had the sole purpose of making the project feasible! I've always tried to have a very pragmatic approach to things. Jeanne-Claude and I have never done anything other than touch reality. Anything we touch, built sites or nature, everything belongs to someone. So we negotiate, we rent, we sign contracts. The private, the public. The most expensive project we’ve carried out was the in Japan, in 1991. Long before that date we’d outlined the idea of wrapping monuments. The project we’re carrying out together today in Paris dates from 1961! This tells you the time, the determination it takes to see them born, to the point that in some cases, some have tired us and we’ve abandoned them. I always say that when the pleasure – yes, the pleasure – was blunted, Jeanne-Claude and I moved on! Twentythree projects have been completed to date, but forty-seven have been abandoned ... And if you say we’re “entrepreneurs", I’d rather say that this relationship is that of architects! Besides, everything that leads to carrying out a project, to giving it shape and life, comes from an infinity of problems to be solved, problems that go far beyond what we imagined. In Barcelona, for example, where we had the plan, in 1975, to wrap the monument to Christopher Columbus, the mayor of the city was murdered! When a new mayor was elected, we no longer felt like it. One project also leads us to another. Around 1968, when William Rubin (4) asked us to wrap MoMA, and the security authorities refused, we moved on to other things, other places. We wanted to wrap public buildings, prisons, parliaments. This is how the idea of the Reichtag came about. We make projects, drawings and collages. We envision through photography what it could be like. It’s represented by a kind of “trompe-l’oeil” optical illusions that are, in a way, short cuts to considering the final realization. And then it’s afterwards that it all starts or it all ends! Parasol Bridge
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