Big Air Package

The latest and possibly last installation by the legendary Christo is called the Big Air Package. Everything concerning the project is impressive, starting with the exhibition space. Built in the 1920s, the Gasometer on the Rhine-Herne Canal in Oberhausen, Germany, is one of the more appealing industrial monuments of the country. The former gas storage container is 117 meters tall and 67 meters wide, towering over any living creature. The inflatable Big Air Package itself, erupted within the Gasometer, is 94 meters high and 54 meters wide.

The installation is made up of 20.350 m2 of specially made white, translucent material the artist calls ETex Christo. A specialty firm in Lübeck, North-Germany, spent 2800 hours completing 12,5 kilometers of stitching. The 600 panels of fabric are to be held together by ropes and Velcro, which are meant to allow the 5,3-metric-ton formation to hold as much air as possible. The work of art is stated to be the largest ever inflated envelope without a skeleton.

At the opening of the Big Air Package Christo did a lot of reminiscing on his career, but still seems to have the energy to stay productive, despite the loss of his lifelong partner and wife in 2009. “In the past 50 years, we’ve realized 22 projects and failed to get permission for 37 more.” 

What ever the reasons for the failed attempts, one has to say that after a lot of successful (mostly packaging) projects, time, now has become the biggest obstacle for Christo in creating new projects.

This is how the world is, this is how humans are … Everything that exists must disappear. Now, our art is something that basically cannot be owned, cannot be purchased, cannot be kept. It is ephemeral, and therefore it is free — and it is beautiful. 

The artist concludes on the Big Air Package, slightly with a melancholic undertone, seemingly as a parable for life: “Now it is there. Soon it will be gone.”

Make sure to visit before it is actually gone, the installation can be visited until December 30, 2013.

Photography by Wolfgang Volz.