Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude’s proposed 42-mile installation “Over the River” has received several beatings since they came up with it 20 years ago. And now, despite multiple court battles and various investments totaling $15 million, Christo would rather walk away. His reason? According to a statement released on the artists’ website yesterday, it’s to oppose the new Trump administration, which now controls the federal land in Colorado where the installation would be.
The project, which would have consisted of some 6 miles of incandescent fabric suspended over different areas of the Arkansas River, has been going through the wringer in court for the past five years. Local opposition group Rags Over Arkansas River (ROAR), which has filed several appeals, claims that the thousands of visitors who would flock to see it would hurt the local wildlife. However, both the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Colorado State Parks approved the project after conducting a three-year environmental analysis (which Christo funded), and the appeals have already been denied in five separate instances.
The 81-year-old Bulgarian born artist’s perseverance was driven by the pact that he and his late wife had that if one of them was not able to be a part of seeing the project through, the other would. Before Jeanne-Claude died of a brain aneurysm, the two would travel separately in case something happened to one of them. The election of President Donald Trump in November was the final blow for Christo, who hails from a Communist country and told The New York Times, “I can’t do a project that benefits this landlord.”
Within many prominent artists taking a public stand against President Trump and his art aficionado daughter Ivanka, Christo's is the most reverberant, and follows fellow artist’s Richard Prince’s move to renounce a work of his that reproduces one of Ivanka's selfies and returned a $36,000 payment to the Trumps.
Christo is known for self-funding his artworks for specific aspects such as permits, fundraising costs, legal fees, and other expenses. He planned to raise $50 million for "Over the River," specifically.
Rather than continuing the fight for “Over the River,” Christo will now focus on “The Mastaba” in the United Arab Emirates, which entails stacking 410,000 multicolored barrels reminiscent of Islamic architecture, and is slated to be the world’s largest sculpture.