by Crispin Baynes, founding member of The Wylde
In the midst of this dystopian week, we also mourn the passing of Christo, the acclaimed environmental artist who, across a five-decade career with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, created surreal landscape installations that brought all walks of life together in shared experiences across the globe, encouraged to see, feel, and interact.
Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it. Reflecting on his life in the current time there are gifts that feel timely, timeless and hopeful.
Freedom Is the Enemy of Possession
“The reason we don’t like the projects to stay is no one can charge for tickets, nobody can buy this project. It is freedom. Freedom is the enemy of possession, and possession is permanence. That is their power: because they cannot be bought, they cannot be possessed.”
They transformed ordinary places into unmissable destinations adored by a tribe of aesthetes who traveled the globe in anticipation to be part of it and share it with others. But they started from scratch and produced everything with their own hands — sketches to models to larger models. They never did the same thing. Each work was unique. They self-funded to retain control and have the freedom to not undersell the work.
We Must All Stand for an Open Society
“It was very important for us to wrap a public building, because these buildings belong to the people.”
Christo rejected political readings of his work. (He did walk away from USD 15M of his own money invested in a project set to be staged on federal land after the last election, on the principle that he couldn’t have Trump as a landlord). That said, wrapping buildings that had been imposed by the state on a captive populace, and relentlessly navigating the endless, often nefarious, bureaucracy for permissions was his affirmation, through art, of an open society. What’s yours?
Life Is Fleeting
“Our works are temporary in order to endow the works of art with a feeling of urgency to be seen, and the love and tenderness brought by the fact that they will not last.”
The work no longer exists. They were fleeting but unforgettable, conveying a distinctly human vulnerability. Today more than ever it feels like life is both vulnerable and precious. Just as Christo and Jeanne-Claude wriggled tirelessly through imposing administration to make their art available to us all, we must now stand in solidarity and with those who seek justice and reform for us all.
In 1958, Christo wrote: “Beauty, science, and art will always triumph.” We hold those words closely today. Culture changes regulation. Not the other way around. You will be missed.
Crispin Bayne is a founding member of The Wylde (@wyldepeople), a club that brings people together around culture and purpose. They’ve launched in New York and are currently beginning memberships and programming. To find out more sign up here or contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.