For sixteen days – June 18 through July 3, 2016 – Italy’s Lake Iseo was being reimagined. 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes, undulated with the movement of the waves as The Floating Piers rose just above the surface of the water.
Visitors were able experience this work of art by walking on it from Sulzano to Monte Isola and to the island of San Paolo, which was framed by The Floating Piers. The mountains surrounding the lake offered a bird’s-eye view of The Floating Piers, exposing unnoticed angles and altering perspectives. Lake Iseo is located 100 kilometers east of Milan and 200 kilometers west of Venice.
“Like all of our projects, The Floating Piers were absolutely free and open to the public,” said Christo. “There were no tickets, no openings, no reservations and no owners. The Floating Piers were an extension of the street and belonged to everyone.”
A 3-kilometer-long walkway was created as The Floating Piers extended across the water of Lake Iseo. The piers were 16 meters wide and approximately 35 centimeters high with sloping sides. The fabric continued along 2.5 kilometers of pedestrian streets in Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio.
“Those who experienced The Floating Piers felt like they were walking on water – or perhaps the back of a whale,” said Christo. “The light and water transformed the bright yellow fabric to shades of red and gold throughout the sixteen days.”
In the spring and summer of 2014, Christo, Vladimir Yavachev – Operations Director, Wolfgang Volz – Project Manager and Official Photographer, and Josy Kraft – Registrar/Curator, scouted the lakes of Northern Italy. Along with Project Director Germano Celant, they found Lake Iseo to be the most inspiring location. Since that time they worked alongside team members from around the world to realize The Floating Piers.
The Floating Piers was first conceived by Christo and Jeanne-Claude together in 1970. It was Christo’s first large-scale project since Christo and Jeanne-Claude realized The Gates in 2005, and since Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009. As with all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, The Floating Piers was funded entirely through the sale of Christo’s original works of art. After the 16-day exhibition, all components were removed and industrially recycled.