Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Gates

Film review I wrote during a documentary film festival for a film magazine.


Not a mere recording of the creation of landscape art for New York’s Central Park by famous artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude; The Gates is a documentary which symbolises the general public’s perception of art.

Passing through a period of 26 years, it narrates the bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness the artists had to face to be able to complete the finished piece; a two-week display of 7500 saffron coloured gates located over the park’s walkways. A project that cost around 20 million US Dollars, and was funded by the artists themselves.

What, everybody wants to know, is its purpose? “Why don’t you use that money to feed people?” and “The park is a piece of landscape art! To place another piece of landscape art on top of it would be like asking Picasso to paint the Guernica on the surface of The Last Supper!”. Then, in 2005, they finally get the green light. Hidden behind trees, people reluctantly watch as the first steel gates are erected in their beloved park, whilst muttering and complaining to the camera crew. Yet all this ceases the moment The Gates are unveiled; at first the park turns into a theatre, with great crowds of enthusiastic onlookers, then into a mystical place where the wind blows the fabric attached to the steel into beautiful saffron-coloured waves, framing the parks’ vistas and reinvigorating a space that everybody took for granted.

As one of the park’s inhabitants, a homeless man, states: “People think why don’t you use the money for something else, like feeding them and shit. Something like this, the money is well spent! I think it feeds the soul.” He should know.

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