New Christo art installation 'The Floating Piers' nears completion in Italy

People will be able to 'walk on water' for 3km free of charge as 150 volunteers watch over safety 

Jess Denham
Wednesday 08 June 2016 11:27
'The Floating Piers' will connect two islands to the town of Sulzano on mainland Italy
'The Floating Piers' will connect two islands to the town of Sulzano on mainland Italy

Bulgarian artist Christo is close to finishing a new art installation that will allow people to ‘walk on water’ across Italy’s Lake Iseo.

The 80-year-old has been overseeing production of “The Floating Piers” since November, with a 16-day public opening confirmed for 18 June.

Christo’s team has been anchoring 220,000 floating polyethylene cubes into the lake to create a 3km walkway that connects two islands to the town of Sulzano on mainland Italy. One of the islands, Monte Isolo, is home to 2,000 people and usually only accessible by boat.

“The Floating Piers” is as much about engineering as it is art: Bulgarian athletes have been assembling the cubes while divers have been attaching them to concrete slabs on the lake floor, with 190 anchors transported by air balloons.

Half a million people are expected to visit “The Floating Piers”, which still awaits its “final touch” of a yellow fabric that changes colour from red to gold in response to shifting light and humidity levels. German seamstresses will be sewing the fabric onto the cubes with custom-made machines to create an undulating sensation like “walking on the back of a whale”.

Christo tries out his floating cubes installation in northern Italy

There will be 150 trained volunteers on hand to ensure safety as visitors are expected to swim in the lake despite it being forbidden. The installation is free to attend, with Christo financing the €15m project himself.

“The Floating Piers” is Christo’s 23rd installation, following the successes of “Wrapped Reichstag” in Berlin (1995) and “The Gates” in New York’s Central Park (2005). He chose Lake Iseo for its beautiful setting that many believe inspired the background of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “Mona Lisa”.

“The Floating Piers” will be open until 3 July. For more details visit the project website here.

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