Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Little escap(ad)e: Art Immersion, part 1

My first day of art immersin consisted of a visit to the current installation by Christo, “Big Air Packege” in the Gasometer in Oberhausen. I had never yet seen a ‘live’ Christo.
When Jean-Claude and Christo wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin eighteen years ago I had really wanted to go, but let myself be talked out of taking a night train to Berlin, spending the day and taking another night train back by my then Greek boyfriend. He considered this whole event total nonsense, my idea a complete idiocy, and I was too unawares of what he was doing with me that I did not understand this was the first clear sign which should have told me that we were not well-fitted with each other. But that’s another story.
When Jeanne-Claude and Christo wrapped the trees at Basel, I had made all the necessary arrangements to go visit my friend who lives just opposite the valley from the Fondation Beyeler, she even has a view of the park. I wanted see it on the last weekend of the event. But the foliage came down prematurely, putting extreme strain on the branches in their wrapping, the whole thing was dismantled a few days early – and I did not get to see it except on postcards and a few pictures my friend had taken.
I did once catch an exhibition in Rostock that gave an overview over various Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, and my husband has been a very attentive gift-giver regarding books and DVDs on their work, so I am sufficiently well-informed, I would claim. But I still hadn’t seen anything ‘live’ – couldn’t go and see The Gates in New York as I was 7 months pregnant at that time, and the covering of that river in the US still hasn’t taken all the various objective hurdles yet…
So when I heard this March that Christo was doing this  "Big Air Package" in Oberhausen, I knew I would have to make sure I would get to see it. And this week's trip to the Netherlands was a good enough start.
When I got to the Gasometer, I took the ‘long way’ in – first I went up the staris on the outside of the construction, to the viewing platform at the top.

There were a few more metres of stairs left after this sign -
and I walked up all of them, from the ground!
Then I took the lift down, and a good view around the exhibition about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s various projects, the ones that have been realized, and the ones that are still waiting to become real.

View into the exhibition on the floor below the Big Air Package
This is a table that shows the time frames with which some of the projects  faced or still are facing. For example, I hand’t known that the wrapping of the Reichstag had been turned down three times. I only remembered that there had been a hefty debate about it all in the German Bundestag whether this should be allowed before the beginning of the renovation of the historic building, when parliament was moving from Bonn to Berlin.

And then I finally went inside the big air-filled sculpture.

a look up

a look around

The signs kept saying that it would be filled with awe-inspiring silence, giving you a feeling of… However, lots of people, though talking relatively quietely, and some little kids who just couldn’t resist trying out the echo effect in the package, and the Gasometer as such made sure that silence wasn’t what you could find inside. But that’s ok, I didn’t really go in there for an experience of silence.
I loved the whiteness of the interior and spent quite some time just sitting down, watching people, looking up. I even managed to catch one of the pleather pillows on the floor where you can lie down and look up into the sky.

others looking up and around

So I, too, became a part of this projection of the visitors’ movements that is filmed by a camera at the very top of the bubble/package and then and can be seen outside in the exhibition part. At first I thought it was insects caught under some meshing, until I realized what it really was.

looking at others looking up, from up top

And I also managed to find two of the air holes which are used to blow the air into the whole construction. (On the picture just above you can see them as little black dots in the upper left segment of the darker white segment.)

So if you find yourself somewhere near Oberhausen (not too far from Cologne, not too far from Dortmund) before December 30th of this year, it's well worth going to experience this feeling of being inside a huge package...

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