Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
With the death from an unexpected aneurysm of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, fans of the artists believed that Christo would appear no more, but he premiered his Big Air Package in 2013 and then, in 2016, revived the Floating Piers project that he and Jeanne-Claude created years earlier. Now in his eighties and more irritable than before, Christo is still chock full of the energy required to schmooze at gatherings, raising interest with the same boyish enthusiasm we have seen him display since the earliest films covering him, as dedicated to talking to art world oligarchs as he is to students at a public school. The value of Christo’s work in the modern world that has embraced artificial experiences in smart screen technology is its tangible nature, he isn’t creating a virtual reality experience but giving you a real pier to walk on with the actual wind blowing through your hair. Originally intended to be created in Argentina in the seventies, Christo creates walkable surfaces covered in fabric around an island in Lake Iseo, Italy almost 50 years after the project was dreamed up, still financed in the same method of his other works (by selling his own conceptual drawings). In its resurrected form, the Floating Piers doesn’t suffer the same lengthy delays for approval as it had in the past, but Christo is infuriated after it opens and Italian authorities allow too many people to walk on it at once. Director Andrey Paounov doesn’t have the razor-sharp precision of the Maysles and company for creating a narrative out of the most essential elements of what he observes; a documentary running 100 minutes isn’t a ridiculous notion, but after watching a series of exceptionally satisfying 60 minute films, it’s interesting that Paounvo needs the full feature length to cover the usual process of conception and execution without going much deeper. Seeing the artist’s work in higher definition is a pleasure, though, and following the project through its paces is still an enjoyable ride.