The “Other City ” of Christo

There are four practices/ ideologists that/who have influenced the generation of designers and architects, especially in the 80’s and 90’s. There is nothing common amongst the four different positions taken by these practices, in literal sense but each of them have produced a critical commentary on the contemporary architecture and urbanism in the broadest possible sense. Perhaps this critical review may not have a generic influence on all of us (as I have stated) but the ideas proposed by these practices were definitely the academic roller coaster driver especially in the 80’s and 90’s academia. These are the work of urbanists which relentlessly and critically reflected on the academics and practice prevailing at that time.

  • Aldo Rossi on Other city through analogy and memory
  • Site group’s critical commentary on homogeneity of the urban environment
  • Manfredi Taffuri’s critical work that reviewed the relationship of architecture and society with capitalist and market driven ideas.
  • Christo on large scale tactical intervention in the environment as a shock for bringing people together

The only common aspects that one could articulate among all the four were that their concerns were towards people and environment. Chriso’s work embarks on two different positions, it has a pompous quality yet has the criticality of ephemeral aesthetic. It has a sense of hostilities due to its scale yet his work is viewed as a spectacle object. The focus on projects of such tactical interventions emerged when the Reichstag was wrapped. This building has witnessed the mutation of history across the decades and the fragile and transitory nature of fabric that hides the profile, and glorifies the metaphysical presence of historically survived architecture. 

Unlike other contemporaries, Chriso’s work was never a political message or a popular manifesto against the imagined anarchic world. Christo’s work hinged on the metaphysical world that is evoked through audacious placing of a monumental disguise for a monument or an object in the environment, and making history and the object suddenly out of context and creating a sense of ‘no-where-ness’. The experience of such monumental art-form was to prompt the viewers to wander aimlessly yet be engaged in their thought, slowly limping into the other world, almost with a childlike sense of wonder.

No matter what art critics or environmentalists would say about his ethical and moral standing on such monumental art works in the city, Christo’s work has a significant message (sometime I wonder if its same as Henri Lefebvre’s “counter space”) that not only destabilizes the art and gallery relationship but also seriously challenges the normative compartments of art, people and public realm.

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