Christo and Jeanne-Claude
I found there was so much to appreciate in the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The works they have produced are incredibly beautiful, just as they are, but to truly value what they have done requires a bit more thought.
The increasing scale and ambition of their projects requires years of planning and the eventual construction employs vast teams of workers. That they have never sold out and sought external sponsorship is testament to their devotion to their ideal of freedom. They go to a great deal of effort, funding the projects themselves and then, usually only two weeks later, they remove the work. It no longer exists, except in photographs and memory.
It is the temporary nature of their work that fascinates me. Obviously it must be awe-inspiring to see ‘in the flesh’ but what really captured my imagination was what happens after…
Who does the work belong to then? Is the location viewed differently thereafter? Does the project even exist once the materials have been removed and recycled?
I discussed the construction and deconstruction in my last post, considering the effect this has on memory. I think this is a really interesting idea especially when combined with thoughts about the dichotomous relationship between concealing and revealing.
I began this exercise then, less concerned with the appearance of the wrap on the object itself, thinking more about what was revealed after its removal. What secrets were concealed in the wrapping?
Wrapping a watering can neatly, revealed a ‘memory’ that reminded me of Gormley’s Angel of the North.
Attempts to create a web of lines or memory map with paper-string were more faint and less effective.
However, drawings in pencil and stitch were more successful in recording the outcome, even though they seem rather removed from the process itself.
Finally, I discovered drawing did hold the key. The marks on the paper remember the object. Once opened out a complex system is revealed in a composition I am very excited about. Physically, the lines appear sensitive, their quality varies from heavy to delicate, the edges are softened by the way they were created. The lines radiate from a central circle linking the composition to early pieces I made. Symbolically, the sample represents neural pathways, twisted memories and failing synapses.
I really wanted to develop this piece, I believe it has potential. My initial thoughts were to machine embroider the memory onto cloth but experience in Part 5 of ATV told me this might not be the best way to go. In previous experimentation, a similar set of marks lost their charm when stitched in this way. I decided to sit with this idea for a while before deciding on my next course of action. One thing I am sure about is that scale will play an important role in the success of the piece. As soon as I saw the photographs I realised the marks don’t perform nearly as well when reduced in size. This needs to be big.