The artist Christo has pulled out of his ‘Over The River’ project in protest to the Presidency of Donald Trump. The two-week temporary work of art conceived by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude would have incorporated for 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels to be suspended high above the Arkansas River along a 42-mile stretch of the river between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado. Fabric panels were to be suspended at eight distinct areas of the river that were selected by the artists for their aesthetic merits and technical viability. This would have been Christo’s largest project since his ‘Gates’ project in New York’s Central Park in 2005. After 20 years of planning and spending $15m of his own money, the artist says he has no interest in finishing the project under the current government
“The federal government is our landlord. They own the land. I can’t do a project that benefits this landlord” – Christo
“I came from a Communist country,” Christo, who was born in Bulgaria and became an American citizen in 1973, told the New York Times. “I use my own money and my own work and my own plans because I like to be totally free. And here now, the federal government is our landlord. They own the land. I can’t do a project that benefits this landlord.”
Christo has already invested his own money on the work, which he started with his late wife and partner Jeanne-Claude, in 1992. Legal difficulties and bureaucracy are always a part of his pieces, but with the ascension of President Trump, Christo said he no longer has the interest to see the work through.
Following nearly three years of analysis, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its Over The River Record of Decision (ROD) on November 7, 2011. The ROD completed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) permitting process and gave Federal approval to the artists’ original vision for this proposed temporary work of art.
On March 27, 2012, the Fremont County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Temporary Use Permit for Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Over The River. In July 2012, Christo announced that due to pending litigation, he would temporarily postpone the Over The River installation schedule. Christo attempted to set the exhibition date and secure the few remaining permits.
Through the sale of his original works of art, Christo funds 100-percent of costs associated with the permitting process, manufacturing, installation and removal of Over The River. This included all direct expenses to create the temporary work of art, as well as costs that result from it (e.g. environmental analysis, traffic control, trash removal and sanitation). The temporary work of art was to be created without public subsidy or taxpayer support because Christo and Jeanne-Claude have never accepted viewing fees, sponsorships or outside investments of any kind.
“I have been fortunate to work with many dedicated Colorado residents as well as Federal and State agencies who have been a part of Over The River,” Christo added. “I am grateful to everyone who was part of this journey.”