Friday, February 18, 2005

Urban Expeditions: The Gates in Central Park

This week and next, Central Park, New York's glittering jewel of a backyard, is hosting an adventurous, massive-scale celebration of public art. The Gates are the work of Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude. As the artists explain on their website, the work is free, with no invitations, no tickets and no admission lines.

The project is very much in the spirit of the free interchange of ideas and experience that infuses the open-source phenomenon. It also honors the spirit behind the design and construction of Central Park, a free and public space open to all.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have paid for the entire project themselves, from the receipt of sales of concept drawings for the project to museums and collectors. They do not take on corporate sponsors. They will not sell any part of the project once the installation is over. The work is only installed for sixteen days. As the artists explain:

Their short life-spans creates a preciousness and an urgency, encouraging us to bear witness and drink in the art as much as we can, while we can, all the while knowing it may well be gone the next time we visit the site -- in this case Central Park.

Our memories of this experience are how the artwork changes us -- perhaps the most powerful force of art, that the changes made are not in the site, but in us.

Visit their website to learn more about their philosophy.

If you want to see it in person, you'd better hurry. It will only be up for another week. Or check out my photos, taken on February 13.

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