February 2, 2012

"In truth, the art project is akin to a massive resource extraction project, and under federal law should be treated as one..."

So reads the complaint in a lawsuit brought by a group of University of Denver law students against federal land managers who approved Christo's draping fabric over 6 miles of the Arkansas River.
[I]n classifying an art project as a “recreation activity,” the suit says, the federal analysts framed their assessment in ways that excused the impact of the thousands of bore-holes, rock-bolts and anchors that will have a cumulative effect, the suit says, not unlike industrial mining.
This is a new twist on the old "what is art?" question. These law students are arguing about the art/mining distinction.

Let me add: I love Christo. I used to hate him.


Anonymous said...

Overheard in SOHO last week:

CHRISTO: "Yo! Wassup!"

UNEMPLOYED LAWYER: "Stop the bullshit, dude. I ain't got time for that. You got the money?"

CHRISTO (gesturing toward his briefcase): "Here! One million dollars! Good for two... maybe even three!... loan payoffs."

UNEMPLOYED LAWYER: "Okay. We'll file next week, then. Kirk? You gonna write this up?"

KIRK (eating a cupcake): "Huh? Oh, yeah... Write? Right. Yes! Indeed. I will. ... ... ...You wanna go have some drinks or something?"

UNEMPLOYED LAWYER: "Jesus Christ, Kirk. I see you can waste your time on all sorts of indolence because you didn't sell yourself into slavery for a useless legal education. You know it was either hocking marijuana or filing frivolous publicity lawsuits, don't you? I work fifteen hours every day, man!"

KIRK: "Okie! How about you, Christo?"

CHRISTO: "Drinks? Swell."

Aridog said...

WTF? The "Feds" remove Wolves from endangered status so that they can be "managed" by local officials ... e.g., killed and removed from their natural habitat.

Now the same "Feds" decide a manifestly unnatural rag cover over 6 miles of a wild river is "art?"

Rule (supported by law) in federal wilderness areas is carry out everything you carry in ... so will Christo remove all vestiges of his art when he deconstructs it? That's presuming he is even obligated to do so, of course.

As for the damage to the habitat to mount his art ... guess that means I can snag trout now on the Arkansas River, maybe even up on the Yellowstone, since damages to the ecosystem is no longer a consideration?

Last questions: why does art have to be on public land unless purchased specifically for that purpose? Given that, who is paying for this abomination in the first place.?

Patrick said...

I've never considered the art/mining distinction, although I recall seeing some overhead photos of some type of mine that looked pretty cool. I think the photographer wanted me to think it was ruinous or something, but it looked really cool, like a huge spiral.

Wince said...

$50 million?

With that much sloshing around I wonder how much of that boondoggle will end up in Christo's pocket?

1775OGG said...

Oh, gee, can I now build that nice little power dam to provide energy (At least that's what the current buzzword is!) for my beautiful new tall condo building? And, if a power dam isn't acceptable, what about windmills or instead line the banks of that river with solar panels across the river from my construction site; that way my construction gangs can get a few nore hours of effective lighting while they dig for the foundation's footings.

Thank God for allowing Cristo's fame to grow!

Ah, Google's great. Now it won't allow "preview" to submit a comment, instead ONE must go back to re-enter the WV and then be satisfied to submit right away!

Richard Dolan said...

"This is a new twist on the old 'what is art?' question."

In a way. But it's more a familiar twist on the 'who decides' question. The categories in play -- 'recreational activity' vs. 'mining' -- focus on different aspects of activity that can be categorized in various ways. It would be hard to imagine any 'recreational activity' that doesn't have some environmental impact -- even breathing these days is deemed by some as 'bad' for the environment. So who decides which category is the best fit? I suspect the court will opt to say it was the regulators in this instance whose decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. No judge really wants to be cast in the middle-brow role of cultural censor. (Just think of the courtroom scene in Miracle on 34th Street or the opinion often printed today as the intro to Joyce's Ulysses.) But it's also easy to see the contrary argument behind the student's lawsuit.

Roger Sweeny said...

Art is like God. Most people say it exists, and most people say it is good--but nobody really knows.

And lots of people worship one or the other.

Robert Cook said...

I also like Christo. I was indifferent to him before the Gates were installed in Central Park, but once I walked through the park and through and around the Gates, among all the throngs of delighted park-goers, I was won over! He knew what he was doing by having the Gates put up in winter: the exuberant orange gates were a lightning bolt of life in the dead, gray, winter-bare park.

Christo is also a wonderful draughtsman. He finances his projects by selling his project drawings, and while one might not imagine that drawings of orange drapes in Central Park, for example, could be exciting as drawings, they are! Christo's drawings are representationally accurate and well-done, and they are enlivened by his touch, by the marks he makes. His drawings are beautiful.

john said...


Isn't there a big difference between art you can walk through and "art" you can only see from 40 miles up?

edutcher said...

With the law students on this one.

Draping sheets over buildings is one thing, this is just destruction in the interest of vanity.

David said...

What a great country where the frivolous can sue the frivolous and everyone has a chance to get rich.

Though I think Christo is frivolous, he's also wonderfully interesting.

Portia said...

Never did like Christo since he draped the grapevine with yellow umbrellas.


Carnifex said...

Wonder what the law students think of Victor Borglan? Or the gigantic "Crazy Horse" monument being constructed by the Sioux? Saw Rushmore, and the under construction "Crazy Horse". One was free, and finished, and one wasn't. Both were in spectacular vistas ruined by "ART".

Least it ain't "Piss Cross", or something refined like that.

DADvocate said...

Not art to me. Just a posuer hanging rags. Maybe he does real art elsewhere. He's not improving on nature, just defacing it.

Unknown said...

Draping miles of fabric over a river is defacing Mother Nature's Creation, is no art.

Draping miles of fabric over the White House and Capitol Hill with all the vermins, I mean residents, inside is art.

ricpic said...

I kinda think those delicate rocks will recover from rock bolts.

Christo thinks big. Sometimes he makes a mess, sometimes he hits a home run. My personal favorites are the Caribbean islands girdled by pink material and the running fence in Big Sur country. But when he wrapped a building in Europe, I think it was a German art museum, that looked kinda clunky to me.

Cincinnatus said...

You know, I fish that river. I hate this project too.

Cincinnatus said...

Aridog, the Arkansas is not a "wilderness area".

Larry J said...

What kind of urban asshole looks at the natural beauty of Colorado and thinks hanging six miles of fabric would make it look better?

MadisonMan said...

This is how I misinterpreted your headline. I thought it was law students suing a law school, and that their tuition charges wer a massive resource extraction project.

I'm not sure how I glossed over art project. I think it's because this followed a story about law schools.

Aridog said...

Robin ... you're probably right. Sad to say. Still, after spending a lot of time there from the 50's forward (Leadville down past Buena Vista to Poncho springs), it seems that every time one turns around more "modernity" creeps in to areas once at least nominally wild.

I'd not be surpised to find a Marriot in St Elmo and a Motel 6 in Tincup. I've had horses most of my life, until the round trip commute from farm land, where we'd moved our horses, was 150 miles .. and then began "development" and up popped a golf course.

We humans seem fundamentally incapable of leaving even the least wild. but still natural, places unspoiled. My current favorite escape locale is Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone and it too is slowly drifting from wild to mundane ... more cowboys now on 4 wheel ATV's than horses.

Go a mile or two off Montana-89 and you are definitely in mountain wilderness, and federal pack in/pack out rules apply and are enforced. Very surroundings to the Mount Princeton up past the hot springs of my youth.

Boundary areas between man and wild are fragile, even when developed moderately or ranched intelligently, and soon enough man can't just deal with predators, or even copious ungulates, in the boundary zone, but must kill them off everywhere. And be all righteous about it to boot.

I can just see no valid purpose for such "art work" in remote areas beyond what edutcher, ic, and Larry J have said.

I am old now and cling to my nostalgia ... that's my excuse. I expect before I'm gone that I'll see a golf course or big mega bowling alley in Pray, Montana, as well. That'll probably do me in.

Rusty said...

What if you consider boreholes and rock bolts art?smson

Chip Ahoy said...

I'm fascinated with fences. I like how they follow the terrain but keep their verticality.

Their contrasting parallelisms are arresting. Perfectly parallel horizontally and yet they undulate with the terrain and shrink mathematically as they go, they wend and they wind, they disappear behind a hill and reappear a little smaller, and this apparently pure mathematical construction continues on to shrink to a point.

I like to draw them. Climb over them. Through them. Between them. I don't mind destroying them because they are barriers and they are obnoxious. What a bummer for animals. A good law would be if you want to eat a cow you have to catch it and then you'd have this big-ass dead cow. A lot less people would bother. But that situation would be circumvented instantly by the situation we have now. I love fences, I hate fences.

I am amazed at the work that went into putting up that fence whatever fence and what a drag that must have been out there in the sun. They make me glad that I managed to avoid being coerced into fence building.

Paddy O said...

One day the modern era will end. When Christo leaves this earth, that will be a great step towards that day.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Art is a window washer!

Phil 314 said...

History repeats

Palladian said...

Christo should be rightfully loved by so-called conservatives: He accepts no grants, sponsors or public funds for any of his work; all of it is financed through the sale of his drawings and preparatory materials. He does not use unpaid volunteers: everyone who participates in the realization of a project is paid for their work. And the works are temporary; after a short period of display, they are completely removed, the site returned to its previous condition and the materials sold for industrial purposes or recycled.

What, exactly, is the problem? Or is it that you tiresome losers just like to bitch? You're just like the OWS people, full of resentment, with a feverish need to tell other people how to spend their money.

Rosalyn C. said...

Do people feel the same about mountain climbers and them their leaving ropes and climbing pitons? How about the cables at Yosemite Half Dome? http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm#CP_JUMP_135219
How about the bodies left at Everest? http://gizmodo.com/5755875/abandoned-on-mt-everest

Everything is relative when man's recreational activities are concerned and what people think they have a right to do to the environment.

Christo's art seems benign to me, but this time I think he has gone over the line. But it's not worse than what climbers do all the time.

SGT Ted said...

Great. Wanna-be lawyers making a buck with a lawsuit. Just what we need.

Cincinnatus said...

Palladian, I fish that river and Cristos silly project will prevent me from doing that.