PINK THINK // A Rosy Evening with Christo at PAMM

October 5, 2018




// A Rosy Evening with Christo at PAMM | Pérez Art Museum Miami // 4 October 2018


Christo y Jeane-Claude “Surrounded Islands”, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83:  A Documentary Exhibition


It’s nice to celebrate Miami being on the “map”, quite literally, for something pink other than rosé.  The vintage is 1980-3 and the cause to bubble over for? The 35th Anniversary of Christo and Jeane-Claude’s “Surrounded Islands” 2-week long extravaganza that saw 11 of Miami’s manmade and uninhabited islitas in the Biscayne Bay draped with 6.5 million square feet of buoyant and very pink woven polypropylene fabric that stretched 200-ft offshore. The massive public installation in many ways stands as a marker for Miami in the annals of contemporary art, history and culture and coincides with the 35th Anniversary of PAMM’s origins and the recognition of the Magic City as a serious venue for art.  


Such a sentiment was clearly echoed by the thousands of RSVPs received for Christo’s one-night talk on Thursday, 4 October 2018, marking the commencement of PAMM’s documentary exhibition highlighting Christo and the late Jeane-Claude’s spectacular and grandiose artistic endeavour.  It was amazing to see how the scope of the artists’ undertakings are truly mimicked in the interest of the public and left a strong impact on me as to the power embodied in public art projects. Thirty-five years later, the community is once again brought together for an occasion to celebrate arts and culture, clearly denoting the impact of the Surrounded Islands project and proving its everlasting relevancy.


Christo’s talk was well-received and for every bit as iconic as he is in the art world his demeanor is approachable and genuine.  The artist displayed a slideshow highlighting projects that he and his wife Jeane-Claude had been engaged in in their respective careers.  Afterwards, he fielded numerous questions from the audience sharing both personal anecdotes and the knitty-gritty of his creative processes and labors. In a sense, his very persona replicates the public art that he creates in that the audience is immersed, engaged and in essence, a part of the performance.  


The exhibit is in as many ways as historical as it is du moment:


For the history buffs out there, the exposition at PAMM includes copies of legal documents and permits for the project which are relics from an arduous 2-year long permitting process for that Christo actually embraced at the time as it led to public hype being built surrounding the Surrounded Islands.  In addition, it includes Christo’s primary sketches at the project’s conception, initial plans regarding the functionality of the floating fabric and Styrofoam booms, and actual, physical German-made samples of the pink polypropylene fabric.  


The nowness of the Surrounding Islands exhibition becomes apparent in that the layout in PAMM’s second-floor gallery space, marked by the stunning photography work of Wolfgang Volz, feels almost as though the viewer is part of an actual installation.  Perhaps the striking bubble gum hue of the room could better be known as “millennial pink” and with viewers adorned and bejeweled in all Pantone shades of pink imaginable the show had “Instagram Influencer material” written all over it.  (P.S. Readers, no flash allowed in the gallery!) In addition, as climate change has become increasingly topical in South Florida, it is interesting to note that the initial project faced backlash from environmentalists but ultimately served to improve the environmental condition -- the uninhabited islands were riddled with pollution that Christo’s massive crew helped to clean-up in the process of assembling and dismantling the installation.   


Plumeria, cotton candy, flamingos, Cadillacs, occasionally my hair … why pink you ask?  I too was curious about the color selection for Surrounded Islands and did a little digging.  As it turns out there are several reasons to think pink according to the Bulgarian-born artist.  A 1983 article in the New York Times mentions that Christo finds pink to be a “Latin” color and chose it as an homage to Miami’s “Latiness.”  In addition, he cites that pink is a ‘manmade’ color and produces an ardent contrast to the turquoise seas, blue skies, and sprucy islands that it skirts in contrast to.  To augment, I’m of the personal opinion that that Miami Vice pink as I’ll call it, is one hell of a nod to 1980s Miami too and it certainly photographs well as Wolfgang Volz’s work can attest to.


I know that sometimes we all feel surrounded so in that case let’s surround ourselves with a celebration of ambition, art, culture and all of the above being heralded by and embodied in our beloved 305.  And hurry up and snap a ‘millennial pink’ inspired selfie because word on the street is Pantone has been ushering in ultra-violet for its new “in” color.

Christo & Jeanne-Claude: Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-3: A Documentary Exhibition is on view from 4 Oct 2018 - 17 Feb 2019 at Pérez Art Museum Miami located at 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami.  


© Photos & Text Los Bandidos del Arte, 2018.




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