zurich: a peek at the gates

Posted on March 22, 2006



by julie galante

Recently a gigantic grey box has sprung up in downtown Zurich, right next to the lake. Its bright orange signs let passersby know that it contains something that has to do with the The Gates in New York City.

The Gates was an installation in Central Park by artists Jeanne-Claude and Christo, whose famous works include the Wrapped Reichstag and giant killer umbrellas. As The Gates came to NYC shortly after we had moved away, we were excited to get a chance to see what we had missed.

In order to be allowed into the giant grey box, we had to get (free) tickets in advanced for a particular time. The exhibit starts with depictions of various proposed projects that the Christos had conceived for city of New York (mostly consisting of various wrapped buildings) that were never executed. Then it flows into the history of The Gates, a project that was conceived way back in the 1970s but not realized until 2005. The letters, photographs of meetings, and other documents presented give a sense of immense historical importance to the whole thing—the presentation seems more appropriate to the signing of a historic peace treaty than the approval of an art installation. Reasons offered up in the rejection of the project ranged from ‘Central Park is already a work of art’ to ‘the poles will cause soil compaction’.

The exhibit also contained many of Christo’s visionary drawings and collages of the project, which I easily appreciated as works of art in their own right. The main room housed countless photographs of the actual installation, as well as a couple of the actual gates (rolled up and lying down). The show concludes with images of a yet-to-be executed project entitled ‘Over the River‘.

It felt strange to me to be seeing this exhibit about NYC (the closest thing I have to a ‘home city’) in Zurich (a city I am just starting to get to know), but I am very glad I went to see it.

This exhibition will be running in Zurich until April 2. Free tickets are available here.