Hundreds of thousands of people are likely to be walking on water across Italy's Lake Iseo over the next two weeks, thanks to the vision of maverick artist Christo and, oh, 200,000 blow molded HPDE cubes.
The artist's latest public project, “The Floating Piers,” opened June 18 and features nearly two miles of interlocked HDPE cubes acting as 50-foot wide temporary bridges across the lake.
Like many of Christo's projects, it seems a hit with the public. News reports said some people camped overnight to be among the first to walk the piers, which undulate with the water.
Some visitors sunbathed on the bridges while others dove off into the cool waters of the lake, under the watchful eye of lifeguards on boats and staff on the walkways.
Christo is famous for tapping into something simple and elemental in his work.
In interviews, he seems to constantly emphasize that there's no meaning in his public art like this other than joy, or what people find. He told the New York Times “these projects are totally irrational, totally useless.”
The project website includes videos of the manufacturing. Plastics News had this February story taking a behind the scenes look at the manufacturing, including an interview with an early plastics industry partner of Christo's who later backed out.
While the artist and his team were mum on the details at the time, he apparently set up his own small blow molding factory nearby in Brescia, in a bid to control costs.
He self-funds his massive projects (Floating Piers reportedly cost more than $10 million), declining any sponsors or admissions fees. That apparently requires some hard-nosed negotiations over manufacturing costs. (It's not all utopian.)
Christo's website says all the materials he uses are industrially recycled. That only adds to the value of the work, I think.
Walking the piers sounds like a great way to spend a summer day. Kudos to Christo.