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Opening the Gates
February 11, 2005 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Opening the Gates. Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates opens tomorrow and many are excited about this potentially record-breaking public event. The finishing touches are now being put on the saffron-colored structures, which span 23 miles of path through New York's Central Park. Bloomberg hails the project as "a once-in-a-lifetime work of art," but others aren't so sure. For some, the question remains: is this art?
posted by interrupt (65 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously discussed back in November — thought on the eve of the opening, perhaps it was worth another look.

Also, here are more photos of the installation process.
posted by interrupt at 2:12 PM on February 11, 2005


I guess I'll throw in my own photos about the gates.
posted by splatta at 2:14 PM on February 11, 2005


Also, the weekend forecast for those lucky enough to be there.
posted by interrupt at 2:17 PM on February 11, 2005


Oh, also, also there will be a mefi meetup saturday night. Come for the gates, stay for the nerds!
posted by splatta at 2:21 PM on February 11, 2005


I bought a little disposable Kodak camera to take pictures of Mr. Tucker and the gates. I have friends arriving from Denver just to look at the gates. I have gate fever. Woo Hoo!
posted by MotherTucker at 2:23 PM on February 11, 2005


I wonder if you can take the things with you when it's over? There certainly are enought of them....
posted by ParisParamus at 2:29 PM on February 11, 2005


Here's all photos at Flickr tagged with "thegates" for those like me that wished they could see them in person but can't.
posted by mathowie at 2:29 PM on February 11, 2005


Paris: No.

I would love to see the unfurling live on TV tomorrow. I'll check the usual sources, MSNBC, CNN, etc. but has anyone heard of any specific coverage?
posted by boomchicka at 2:36 PM on February 11, 2005


...is this art?

That depends: did the "public" fund it?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:39 PM on February 11, 2005


Nothing more pompous than asking "is it art?" If you're asking, it likely is. Why can't we just say that anything you want to be art certainly is, but that there exists good art and very, very bad art.
posted by xmutex at 2:43 PM on February 11, 2005 [1 favorite]


That depends: did the "public" fund it?

No.
And how does that make / not make it art?
posted by bshort at 2:47 PM on February 11, 2005


xmutex: I agree. I have no problem calling the project art. But some do — like Mark Goldblatt.
posted by interrupt at 2:48 PM on February 11, 2005


I am art!
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:49 PM on February 11, 2005


Also, that Goldblatt article appears to be completely worthless, even by the National Review's standards.
posted by bshort at 2:51 PM on February 11, 2005


Bshort, that response is an invitation to steal one, or at least the fabric. I probably won't go that far, but it would be cool too have an orange curtain in my apartment.

Legal question: does someone have the right to control whether something is recycled or not?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:47 PM on February 11, 2005


Well, whatever it is, it's ugly.
posted by delmoi at 3:55 PM on February 11, 2005


By sheer coincidence, my husband and I will be in nyc this weekend. I look forward to battling the crowds on Saturday and checking out the scene. For me, the gawkers will be almost as interesting as the art/"art" itself.
posted by arielmeadow at 3:55 PM on February 11, 2005


Nothing more pompous than asking "is it art?" If you're asking, it likely is. Why can't we just say that anything you want to be art certainly is, but that there exists good art and very, very bad art.

Why is that a pompous question? I don't think it is.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:23 PM on February 11, 2005


Is it art?

I don't know if it's art, but I know it's saffron-colored cloth.
posted by The Deej at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2005


is this art?

Who gives a shit? Better questions are: does it make your heart beat faster? Does it make your mind buzz? Does it give you new insight into the whole business of being human?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2005


This certainly falls within my [pretty liberal] definition of what's art, and I intend to pay it a visit next week.
posted by Songdog at 4:40 PM on February 11, 2005


I am young enough to have seen the "Running Fence" Christo did out in California. It was very cool. After, you could buy swatches from the installation.
posted by Eekacat at 4:52 PM on February 11, 2005


I'll be in NYC on the 21st, and I plan to have a visit.
posted by interrupt at 4:56 PM on February 11, 2005


Asking "is it art?" is an attempt to draw lines and attain exclusivity. It's a way of kicking people out of your club.

I think it's a perfectly valid discussion what sort of art something may be, and whether or not it's good art (which is still wanky, but an endless discussion we always engage in and sometimes to fun and meaningful extents, and sometimes to drunken fights!).

But do question whether it is art is just high snobbery and destructive.
posted by xmutex at 5:12 PM on February 11, 2005


IMO this is art.
But so is the discarded candy wrapper I admired briefly this morning--the flattened awkward purple shape in the sun against the grey sidewalk.
I prefer other works by Christo.
I like art and neighbourhoods that haven't become too chic.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:12 PM on February 11, 2005


It's hard to believe that in 2005 we are still trying to define what is and what is not art.

The American Heritage definition of art is:
"Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature."

In other words, just about anything goes as long as human effort and imitating, supplementing, altering, or counteracting nature are involved.

So, yeah, it's art.

The question is how do we feel about it? What do we think of it? And on an aesthetic and intellectual level does it give us a sense of exhilaration, disgust, hope, confusion...in short does it move us in any way at all?

I think it's pretty cool.
posted by Rashomon at 5:24 PM on February 11, 2005


Is it art?

Absolutely not. Art must be framed, fit on a wall or in foyer, and have an appraised value. If we go around allowing things to be called art that can't be bought then all hell will break loose.
posted by donovan at 5:26 PM on February 11, 2005 [1 favorite]


Is it art?


Well, as long as I'm not a homeless person living in NY city trying to find a place to sleep and find food near Central Park and possibly beg for some quarters, altough there's bound to be some rich tourists to get money from, it's art to me.
posted by alteredcarbon at 5:49 PM on February 11, 2005


Is it art?

No. It is podiatry.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:57 PM on February 11, 2005


Absolutely not. Art must be framed, fit on a wall or in foyer, and have an appraised value. If we go around allowing things to be called art that can't be bought then all hell will break loose.

Took the words right out of my mouth.
posted by interrupt at 6:00 PM on February 11, 2005


Every intentional act is a work of art.
posted by Balisong at 6:28 PM on February 11, 2005


[angry old man voice] You kids get offa my lawn!!!
posted by fungible at 7:03 PM on February 11, 2005


It makes me think of frisbee golf, for some reason.
posted by smackfu at 7:08 PM on February 11, 2005


Are there copyright issues about taking and posting photographs of this installation? Sounds stupid, but there's precedent in Chicago.
posted by SPrintF at 7:09 PM on February 11, 2005


If we experience mystery or beauty, the birth of new thought or feeling, the feeling of a sacred object, it was creative expression. Is it Art? Do you need someone to tell you? A critique or dismissal tells more about us than the object. In the end we discard art based on our angles / angels of perception, not what is right or good.
posted by uni verse at 7:12 PM on February 11, 2005


Is it art?

I thought we settled this in the first half of the twentieth century. Duchamp and his cronies made it clear that this is a silly question. The real questions to ask include: is this art interesting? do I want to experience more of this art?

Does it give you new insight into the whole business of being human?

And business is very much a key word. I find the business of this and previous work pretty interesting. They are entrepeneurial. They don't accept sponsorships or donations. (Other people's money comes with other people attached.) They realize, and share a grand experience for free, and then destroy (recycle) the original. People can patronize the artists by buying other related works. This all seems to me to fit well with the 21st century.

It's also interesting that on their site they list a number of films, books and videos about their work and how to buy them. They also point out that they "do not participate in the films' marketing and do not share in any financial gain from the selling of these films. Not any." So, much of the documentation of their work is created as separate entrepeneurial/artistic endeavours by others.

...so is the discarded candy wrapper I admired briefly this morning--the flattened awkward purple shape in the sun against the grey sidewalk.

I would argue that the art happened during perception. You made it by seeing it. You were the artist. If someone else sees the same accidental art they are also the artist. Full disclosure: I photograph litter and post it online, so I've got a stake in when it becomes art.
posted by KS at 7:37 PM on February 11, 2005


I hope this all doesn't ruin The Lawn.
posted by undule at 7:47 PM on February 11, 2005


I don't know if its art but, as one friend is going to do, I bet it looks very, very cool at sunrise after a night of booty shaking.
posted by fenriq at 8:43 PM on February 11, 2005


Well, whatever it is, it's ugly ... Oh Look! It is an art review by DELMOI ! Who I assume has actually seen the yet unveiled work? Or maybe Delmoi hasn't seen it...
posted by R. Mutt at 9:16 PM on February 11, 2005


Why are they doing this?
posted by sophist at 10:41 PM on February 11, 2005


Why not? It's hat-over-the-windmill stuff. Nonsensical, whimsical, and apparently not on the public dime. Kinda like the Olympics, and less displacing to citizens. Wish I was there.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:17 PM on February 11, 2005 [1 favorite]


It'll be an interesting event. And could be considered art as much as any designed event such as a play.

The Art-Not Art crap usually spews from confusion with art as painting vs. all the friggin other versions no one has any problem referring to as art. But it's also a safe haven for questionable 'artists' to hide in the nether-crevices to avoid criticism from well established regarders of those other traditional forms of art.
posted by HTuttle at 3:25 AM on February 12, 2005


I live in NYC, and I think this thing is totally retarded. One of my friends came to visit me from L.A. last month, and I got the chance to give him the "Why NYC is soooo Much Better than LA" tour. Anyway, we got to Central Park, and everywhere we go we see these wierd neon things and these other things that look like little benches (this was while they were still setting up the exhibit.) Well, needless to say, all this neon totally threw off the previously-beautiful Central Park in The Wintertime aesthetic, giving my friend the (false) impression that Central Park is actually less cool than it really is.

Thanks alot, egocentric "artist" guy.

Geez. First the Republicans at MSG, now THIS!
posted by afroblanca at 6:16 AM on February 12, 2005


At least you had no problem showing him the stereotypical New Yorker.
posted by smackfu at 9:08 AM on February 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


I will definitively report on The Gates' value tomorrow evening.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:16 AM on February 12, 2005


Next year: wrapping Paramus Park in metalic fabric. Ideally, so that the mall is completely inaccessible.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:22 AM on February 12, 2005


2007: Wrapping Paris Paramus... aw, never mind.
posted by cloudscratcher at 11:05 AM on February 12, 2005


Next year: wrapping Paramus Park in metalic fabric. Ideally, so that the mall is completely inaccessible.

Well, accessible by a select few...
posted by Balisong at 12:12 PM on February 12, 2005


Some words and photos of The Gates are up at kottke.org.
posted by interrupt at 12:40 PM on February 12, 2005


Anticlimax.
posted by uni verse at 2:43 PM on February 12, 2005


I just got back from walking through the park and taking pictures and there was really nothing anti-climactic about it. The whole "art" of the gates is more than just the gates themselves.
posted by bshort at 4:31 PM on February 12, 2005


Nothing more pompous than asking "is it art?"

Well, expect for chiding people for asking, "Is it art?"

It's hard to believe that in 2005 we are still trying to define what is and what is not art.

Not as hard as believing there are people who think "What is art?" is a done deal.

Duchamp and his cronies made it clear that this is a silly question.

No, Duchamp and his cronies made the question explicit. The idea is to keep asking the question.
posted by Ayn Marx at 5:29 PM on February 12, 2005


The beauty of the project is that if you want, you can enjoy the gates in solitude and quiet: The Gates cover 23 miles of the park: you shouldn't have a hard time finding a stretch of path to take in the scene without a dozen of your NYC neighbors.

This is, I think, truly a gift to NYC by Christo and Jeanne-Claude: $21 million, 20+ years, not a penny earned and all for only 16 glorious saffron-clad days.

Makes me feel very lucky to live in NYC and have this spectacle right on my doorstep.
posted by moxyberry at 9:23 PM on February 12, 2005


I wont be there till march 7th... CURSES
posted by sourbrew at 6:09 AM on February 13, 2005


We were going to wait until Monday morning to miss the crowds, but today was such a gorgeous sunny day, we had to check it out. It's truly spectacular, and I'm going back tomorrow anyway.
posted by muckster at 3:28 PM on February 13, 2005


Well, a day later (went yesterday but didn't get to read MeFi 'til now), I have to say "WOW". I'm still amazed by the Gates and plan on going over and over again as much as I can.

Is it art? My answer would be yes, in that it is an installation that helps us rediscover some fundamental truths about human nature.

Does it matter whether it is art or not? In my view, absolutely not. Decisions as to whether something is art or not are interesting as mind games but nothing much beyond that ;)
posted by TNLNYC at 5:40 PM on February 13, 2005


$2800 a pop wholesale....
posted by IndigoJones at 6:56 PM on February 13, 2005


Well, I think the performance art aspect of the Gates is quite remarkable: people abandoning televisions and Times Square, and the Gap to parade in the February cold; to look and react--that's fantastic!

As for the Gates themselves, I was on Central Park South for a dentist appointment today, and at least in the mid/late afternoon sun, the orange does nothing for me; it's the color of highway construction warning objects (or close). I also don't like the "inverted stubbyness" of the fabric: too little of each gate's height is covered by fabric; the proportion is not graceful.

Oh, whatever, I urge everyone to take a trip to CP in the next two weeks.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:54 PM on February 13, 2005


from Manhattan Users Guide:

'...."The Gates" is the first truly citywide event since September 11th, a malign and permanent transformation of space on the one hand, a benign and temporary one on the other. From people born outside our shores, one was done to us, one done for us. September 11th was a vertical event; this installation encourages you to see horizontally, to reframe the landscape with its proscenium arches and show curtains. Terrorists cast ashes over a golden morning, artists launched patches of orange under ashen skies.'
posted by gleenyc at 8:06 AM on February 14, 2005


Is it art? My answer would be yes, in that it is an installation that helps us rediscover some fundamental truths about human nature.

posted by TNLNYC at 5:40 PM PST on February 13


Care to elaborate?

I guess art is art if you choose to view it as art... but it is hard for me to see the point of viewing this as art if the only discussion it provokes is "Is it art?" *shrug*
posted by nequalsone at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2005


Art and "happening" both.

I was in the park all of Saturday, arriving shortly after the unfurling. The park was full of people talking about the installation, talking about what is beautiful and considering meaning. That response defines art.
I appreciate the gifted aspect of the project and that, as a result of of this work, people are experiencing all corners of the park in safety and in joy. Central Park is elevated by it; The Gates is a memorable episode in the rich history of the park.

It moved me.
posted by Morrigan at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2005


So, I went back today and figured out that the trick is to go as much as possible. The Gates changes with the light, the time of day, the wind, the crowd, the music on the iPod, your mood, and thousand other factors. Plus, it's huge--I've spent hours and hours wandering all over the place, but I've only seen about half of the park transformed. It's just incredibly pleasing. This afternoon, I stumbled on a group of people wearing pastel-colored robes: the Polyphonic Spree was out, having their pictures taken with the Gates. It was a perfect match. To keep walking, I had to push through the lot of them, lined up left and right to let me through. I passed Tom DeLaughter, thanked him for the music, and kept on going. It was all very casual; it made perfect sense, like wandering though some kind of artifical enchanted forest left behind by benevolent aliens. I can't wait to explore the northern end of the park.
posted by muckster at 6:15 PM on February 15, 2005


The Gates from space.
posted by muckster at 1:29 PM on February 16, 2005


IS the Gates art? Ofcourse-- but what isn't? Muzak is also a form of music. The one word for the Gates: BLAND. Its prozac for the masses. Its big big art to create a big big event, using big big money and big big egos: not exactly what the world needs right now. But how could someone criticize something like the Gates? Theres nothing really to criticize. Which is part of the problem. Its so cloying, bland, calculated to go down smoothly, that its a greeting card, a piece of IKEA furniture. Sure: the money is private: but think about what other things could have been done with it. Really stop and think about it.

Read the readers comments in the New York Times and you'll find, that by about 3-1, people agree with this sentiment.
posted by buddhanarchist at 8:52 PM on February 17, 2005


You knew all along you'd hate it, didn't you. Well, I'm glad you got at least that much satisfaction out of it. (Or did you not actually go?)
posted by muckster at 9:05 PM on February 18, 2005


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