When I discuss Christo and Jeanne-Claude with my young students our focus is
on the environmental impact of installation art. I am biased toward the
principal of "First do no harm.". I am concerned that some of his
installations do not consider that the artificial materials disrupt the lives
of the creatures inhabiting the space with the installation. The one that
disturbs me the most is the Surrounded Islands in Biscayne Bay. Miles of
Pink Polypropylene extended 60 meters out on the water's surface for 14 days.
That is a major disruption to the environment of little creatures who want
nothing more than to stay alive and go about the routine of living. Most
animals can't reason out change once territory and patterns are established.
He said he hired a marine biologist and an ornithologist but he was not able
or willing to answer our questions to our satisfaction. (I went to a lecture
and took the list of questions but his answers didn't relieve my concerns.)
When we discuss this installation we debate the question " Does the cleaning
up of the trash on the island offset the disruption to the environment?"
Some of my students have written to the governing body for Manhattan and
demanded that an independent ornithological study be presented and open to the
public before they grant Christo & Jeanne-Claude permission to hang miles of
flapping canvas banners throughout Central park.
We have thought of no objection to the Umbrellas. They have a wonderful rhythm.
We are not an easy group! (Our new principal discovered this when she
announced a not so well thought out decision over the p.a. system. I saw their
eyes and knew that a debate was afoot! Within the hour she was bombarded with
protest letters and position papers from the 3rd grade.) We do have fun
stirring the pot!