Visit Lake Iseo in northern Italy and you’ll see hundreds of people walking on water.
OK, they’re not literally walking on water, but folks who’ve already taken a stroll along the lake’s extraordinary floating walkway have suggested that that’s exactly what it feels like.
The two-mile Floating Piers, which opened to the public this week, is the creation of the internationally acclaimed artist Christo. The large-scale installation is made up of more than 200,000 interlocking cubes enveloped in bright yellow-orange nylon fabric, and connects to two small islands in the lake.
Work to assemble and anchor the cubes to the floor of Lake Iseo started in November, though the idea for the project first came to Christo and his late partner Jeanne-Claude way back in 1970.
For Christo, it was important for the walkway to be constructed without a safety fence, a design feature that explains why an army of lifeguards and monitors are in place to stop the art from becoming too immersive for some visitors.
According to the NY Times, the main challenge facing its builders was getting the walkway to gently undulate while remaining firmly fixed to its anchors. Achieving the feat required a large number of “engineers, construction companies, French deep-sea divers, and even a team of Bulgarian athletes drafted over the past two years,” the Times noted.
The ambitious project cost $16.8 million, with the funds raised through the sale of Christo’s original drawings and collages.
The 81-year-old Bulgarian-American artist said his latest piece consists not only of the walkway but also the surrounding mountains, the lake itself, and even the weather: “With the sun, the rain, the wind, it’s part of the physicality of the project, you have to live it.”
While Christo admitted that many of his projects are “totally irrational” and that “nobody needs them,” he added that Jeanne-Claude always said they exist “because we like to have them, and if others like them, it’s only a bonus.”
The Floating Piers will remain on the lake until July 3, at which point they’ll be dismantled, recycled, and, more than likely, very much remembered.
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