Now you can feel what it’s like to walk on water An aerial view of the in-progress installation 'The Floating Piers' by Bulgarian-born artist Christo Vladimirov Yavachev known as Christo, on the Lake Iseo, northern Italy, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. AP (Photo/Luca Bruno)
Now you can feel what it’s like to walk on water
Lexile

It's taken nearly 2,000 years, but regular folks will soon get to feel what it is like to walk on water. This is thanks to a project by the artist Christo.  He may or may not have had his namesake in mind when envisioning his latest project. It's titled, "The Floating Piers."
 
"Any interpretation is legitimate," Christo, 80, allowed graciously. He spoke in an interview with The Associated Press at the picturesque Lake Iseo. It is in northern Italy, where his 23rd large-scale installation is about to open.
 
Since November, Christo and his team have been overseeing the assembly and anchoring of 220,000 floating polyethylene cubes to create a nearly 2-mile undulating runway connecting the mainland with a pair of islands, one inhabited and towering above the lake.
 
"For the first time, for 16 days, from the 18th of June to July 3, they will walk on the water," Christo said of the 2,000 residents of Monte Isolo, which is normally only accessible by boat.
 
"The Floating Piers" is expected to draw half a million visitors during the longest days of the year to northern Italy's least-known big lake. That is considerably fewer than the 5 million who visited Christo's and his late wife Jeanne-Claude's famous "Wrapped Reichstag" in Berlin in 1995 and the 2 million who walked through their work "The Gates" in New York City's Central Park in 2005.
 
The project still awaits a final touch. It is the application of deep yellow fabric. The artist promises it will dramatically shift from nearly red to brilliant gold under the effects of light and humidity.
 
"You will need sunscreen," from the reflection, he says with conviction.
 
The project awakens many metaphors. Yellow brick road, for the fantastical journey it beckons. Runway, for the attention it commands. Beach, for the lapping waves along the sloping edges of the more than 50-foot wide boulevard. The fabric, which will be sewn into place by German seamstresses with specially made sewing machines, to create natural ruching. This effect prompts Christo to warn that visitors will have to step carefully along the oscillating platform.
 
The artist describes the sensation as "walking on the back of a whale."
 
Once the installation opens on June 18, 150 volunteers, among them lifeguards, will be posted on the piers and on boats to ensure safety. Swimming is forbidden, but expected, despite the cold water temperatures. Entrance is free. The entire cost of the $17 million project was financed by the artist himself.
 
Christo's projects are as much feats of engineering as they are works of art. He has brought in a team of athletes from his native Bulgaria to assemble the specially made, recently invented cubes. Divers anchor them to concrete slabs on the lake-floor, employing oil-rig-inspired two-week rotations. The 190 anchors were moved into place by air balloons.
 
Like many of his previous installations, "The Floating Piers," had its own destiny. Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, envisioned it for the delta of Rio de la Plata, Argentina, in 1970. But they failed to get permissions. They then considered Tokyo Bay, but again failed to get the permits.
 
"The project is done for ourselves. And if other people like it, it's almost a bonus, very much like a painter who (has) huge big canvases they like to fill it with color. You don't fill the canvas with color to please Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones. You fill it with color because you like to have the joy to see this color," Christo said.
 
When his 80th birthday was bearing down on him and his "Over the River" proposal to drape fabric over the Arkansas River in southern Colorado was still embroiled in court battles, Christo decided to make another run at "The Floating Piers."
 
He chose Lake Iseo for its calm waters and simple shoreline against the majestic Alpine foothills. Some believe they may have inspired the background of Leonardo's "Mona Lisa."
 
The installation physically draws in visitors. It demands their participation to get the full experience. That's by the artist's design.
 
"I don't like to talk on the telephone. I like to see the real people. And of course I don't understand anything of computers. I like to have the real things, the real water, the real sun, the real kilometer, the real wind, the real fear, the real joy," he said.
 
Christo delighted in the gentle movement of the nearly finished project. He instructed a boat driver to circle past the runway to create waves and smiled gleefully at the gentile oscillation of the platform. Had the original project gone through, it would have been built with stodgier pontoons. But they lack the kinetic grace allowed by the recently invented cubes.
 
"Each project finds his right place," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does the installation remind people of other things?
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COMMENTS (6)
  • keewon0801-byo
    6/27/2016 - 04:25 p.m.

    Amazing on how to make a giant bridge over the river :O. Still though... it would feel nice because the breeze of the lake will be a amazing feeling. The installation might bring back a good memory of any kind. That happens to me too. Even in the weirdest things possible. Walking over the water feeling might be good. I think i would be bettered if the ground was reinforced glass. I'm saying my opinion.

  • vmargaret-dav
    8/29/2016 - 04:53 p.m.

    In response to "Now you can feel what it's like to walk on water," I disagree that you can now feel what it's like to walk on water. One reason I disagree is that you are walking on cubes not water. Another reason is that you would fall into the water if you were walking on it. If you were running extremely fast you could possibly run across water. It says in the article "Since November, Christo and his team have been overseeing the assembly and anchoring of 220,000 floating polyethylene cubes to create a nearly 2-mile undulating runway connecting the mainland with a pair of islands, one inhabited and towering above the lake." A third reason is that if you were feeling what it was like to walk on water you would be wet. Even though it might feel a little bit like walking on water, I think it does not have the complete feeling of walking on water.

  • meghanp-pav
    9/14/2016 - 09:59 a.m.

    That's an awesome idea but the sun burning your skin might get annoying. Having a chance to "walk on water" will be an amazing experience

  • emmah3-bla
    9/15/2016 - 08:20 a.m.

    What a fantastic idea. I am sure many people would love to experience this bridge only one would dream of. I am going to have to go there some day and see it for myself!

  • hunterb-pav
    9/21/2016 - 09:57 a.m.

    I think this is a great idea because it really is like your walking on water and it's such a great experience for many people.

  • carmenh-orv
    12/21/2016 - 11:38 a.m.

    Many people would like to enjoy to kinda walk on walk on water. It is a unique architect.

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