Travel: Walking on Water

My sister Sarah has always been good at adventures. Both the larger-than-life experiences anyone would call adventures, and those ordinary quotidian events that she makes so much fun they turn into adventures. These photographs, (all taken by and copyright Sarah Fisk, 2016) are from a trip in the first category.


Sarah and her sweetpea John flew to Italy last week to see Christo’s temporary installation of floating piers covered with orange fabric. The piers connect two islands in Lake Iseo, Italy, with the mainland, and cover approximately two miles.


I’ve been impressed and moved by Christo’s work for decades. In collaboration with his late wife Jean-Claude, he’s designed amazing outdoor art installations that always relate somehow to the landscape, including the Running Fence in my home county in California (1976) and the Gates in New York’s Central Park (2005). I actually flew east to see the Gates for myself, I was that excited about them. That’s the first and only time (so far) I have traveled to see art.


Christo and Jean Claude have wrapped large buildings and surrounded islands with fabric, draped cloth across canyons, and otherwise thought up strange and beautiful visions.


Besides the artistic aspects of this work, Christo does two things I respect. He pays for the projects himself, through selling drawings, plans, and related artwork. No city funding or taxpayer monies are involved; the artists do not accept sponsorship or donations.


And the installations are temporary. From 28 hours to 16 days. After which the materials are taken down and recycled, and almost no trace is left. There is something elegant about this that I don’t quite understand. Artists — and everyone else — get so attached to things! Especially if we made them. To be able to add a short life-span into the design of something this big seems almost Buddhist to me. The move of a person who doesn’t want to be weighed down, nor to clutter up the world with any more “stuff.” I bow.


I love the way these projects attract the unexpected… Like six ducks, standing on the piers. And there’s been a lone swan in many of the public photographs. My sister captured it, too. Now I’m dying of curiosity: Is there only one swan, or are there lots of them but just photographs of one at a time?


One of the most valuable things about art is that seeing what other people do — what is possible, what is beautiful, what makes you wake up and get excited — can so often be a spur to your own creativity.


I’m envious, on the one hand, of my sister’s trip. But on the other hand, I get to sit down and prep canvases because I want to do an oil painting of these piers. And Sarah has to hop on a plane and fly for umpteen hours between Italy and California now. Poor thing. After she finishes her lunch, though, of course.


All photographs copyright Sarah Fisk, 2016

5 thoughts on “Travel: Walking on Water

  1. If you’re reading this comment, just a note to say that adding your own comment is vastly helpful to growing a blog, which is what I’m up to here… even if you just say Mazel Tov or ciao, bella! All feedback is welcome, and thanks for reading. xox

  2. I have seen Christo’s and Jean Claude’s environmental art landscape installations and been moved by their beauty, elegance and how the compliment the landscape, not take it over, or detract from it, but join with it and enhance the beauty. I will have to go visit my brother so I can visit the restaurant. The image of the owner with his machine to vacuum flies and release them, is a picture of gentleness, care and regard for life, I was deeply touched. I think you have done a beautiful job with your blog. Congratulations.

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