How a new floating pier in Italy is allowing people to walk on water
Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, an environmental sculptor, is famous for his outdoor sculptures that force observers to ponder questions about the nature of art.
The Floating Piers Project is his latest art installation. Along with Jeanne-Claude, his deceased wife, he came up with the idea in 1970. It consists of a series of walkways installed on a water surface for people to walk on.
After his wife's death, Javacheff was adamant that he wanted to bring the project to life. And he did.
In the spring and summer of 2014, Javacheff with some collaborators scouted the lakes of Northern Italy. They found Iseo Lake, located 100 kilometers east of Milan and 200 kilometers west of Venice, to be the most inspiring location. Among the particularities of this amazing place, two islands, Montisola and San Paolo Island, are found in the middle of this body of water.
Since 2014, Javacheff and his team members have worked from around the world to create The Floating Piers. And finally now, from June 18 to July 3, visitors can walk just above the surface of the water, from Sulzano on the mainland to the islands of Montisola and San Paolo.
The floating walkways are built with about 200,000 polyethylene cubes covered with 70,000 square meters of bright yellow fabric. Another 1,5 kilometers of golden fabric continue along the pedestrian street of the island's coast. The installation's work has been facilitated by the Beretta family, owners of the primary side-arm supplier of the American Army.
Javacheff has said that the piers are free and accessible 24 hours a day. "There are no tickets, no openings, no reservations and no owners," Javacheff said. "The Floating Piers are an extension of the street and belong to everyone."
"Those who experience The Floating Piers will feel like they are walking on water, or perhaps the back of a whale," Javacheff added. "The light and water will transform the bright yellow fabric to shades of red and gold throughout the 16 days."
After the exhibition, all pier components will be removed and recycled.
Javacheff was born in 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, and studied art at the Sofia Academy from 1953 to 1956. In 1958 he moved to Paris where he met Jeanne-Claude, a woman with whom he started creating art. She later became his wife. Their works includes the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, the 39 kilometer-long artwork called “Running Fence” and “The Gates” in New York City's Central Park.
Jeanne-Claude died in November 2009 from complications due to a brain aneurysm.