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 artist Christo has pulled the plug on his Over the River project, which would have covered 42 miles of the Arkansas River in silver fabric for 14 days, as part of a protest that significantly raises the bar for other artists opposed to the presidency of Donald Trump.
“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 had spent $15m of 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.
Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for The Mastaba (2012)
Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © Christo
“After pursuing Over The River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, for 20 years and going through five years of legal arguments, I no longer wish to wait on the outcome,” Christo wrote in a statement. “I have decided to devote all of my energy, time and resources into the realisation of The Mastaba, Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which Jeanne-Claude and I conceived 40 years ago.”
The Mastaba, which was conceived in 1977, will be a 492-foot-tall work comprised of 55-gallon steel barrels, arranged in the trapezoidal shape associated with a type of Old Kingdom ancient Egyptian tomb. It will be the duo’s only permanent large-scale work.
“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.”