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Christo on Lake Iseo

“The Floating Piers”, the greatest work of land art in history

It is the greatest work of land art ever created, in both size and visual impact. The Floating Piers, a project by artist Christo Vladimirov Yavachev, was inaugurated Saturday 18th June at Lake Iseo.

Four and a half kilometres of floating jetties ­spanned across, connecting the town of Sulzano on dry land with Montisola, in the middle of the lake. The walkway is extending up to reach the islet of San Paolo. A jetty consisting of 200,000 polyethylene cubes, measuring 50 cm on each side, covered with golden cloth. This is fundamentally changing the landscape of this Lombardy lake. This is a transformation which is going to last only two weeks, during the exhibition, and then be completely dismantled and recycled.

Christo claims that it is “the sexiest thing you have ever seen”. You can walk barefoot across the cubes swaying from the waves, lie down to sunbathe or even dive in to the middle of the lake. Admission is open to all, but with the prohibition of wearing stilettos or using a bicycle to cross. The town of Sulzano is likely to expect 500,000 visitors in just two weeks. It is an invasion which goes a long way, and one which is not only Italian or European.

It is certainly a challenge, but one where there is much to gain both in economic terms for the areas concerned (only 500 directly employed by Christo for the construction), and in terms of prestige for Italy. It is worth remembering that The Floating Piers, had been rejected by Germany, Argentina and other nations before landing in Sulzano, because it was considered too difficult to implement.

When someone asked Christo why he had decided to commit so much to something that will only last for two weeks, he said, “because even if at the end it will be demolished, it will remain forever in the hearts of those who crossed it and experienced it.” Carpe diem.

Federico Flamminio