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|Author :||Diane Gaede & James Gould|
|School/Work Place :||University of Northern Colorado, USA|
For several decades the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created and installed art all over the world. Their art projects are large scale, temporary, and outdoor-environment inspired, and usually involve woven fabric that is suspended or wrapped around the built or natural environment. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the installation of Christo’s art projects in their community – controversy over the question “What is art?” and ensuing emotional discussions always take place.
They have installed their environmental art in urban and rural spaces, including Sonoma and Marin Counties in California – where for their “Running Fence” project they installed a 24 mile fence of nylon silver fabric that ran from inland California farmland to the Pacific Ocean at Bodaga Bay (1976). In 2005, after 20 years of public meetings and appeals, Christo and Jean-Claude successfully unfurled the undulating saffron orange "Gates" in Central Park in New York City.
Their artwork is contentious because of environmental impact issues, particularly in the US which strictly regulates these impacts. Because of federal and state permitting processes, it is required that community input be sought. Always, both supporters and detractors speak for or against the proposed art project, and this testimony is recorded and analyzed by various permitting agencies. Affected communities always get a chance to have their say regarding the art project’s value (Johnson, 2012). Bringing the art projects to various places all over the world forces the affected local communities to have a serious discussion about what art is, and what it means in public spaces. “You are a part of this art project”, Christo repeatedly tells his local community audiences (Harmon, 2012).