One of the artists I became aware of first in life was Christo (& Jean-Claude, as I was corrected later in life.) His (their) early work helped me understand one of the basic tenets of contemporary art. I was always impressed by the sheer scale, and the desire to do something just because it was possible. His wrapped buildings, surrounded islands, and divided valleys exist solely because they are compelling.
Particularly exciting is that we are only a few weeks away from Christo’s latest large scale project, a lake covered in floating pontoons in northern Italy.
In his early work, around my birth year 1968, Christo created a number of sketches of wrapped women. These were very organic shapes, within very hard-edged landscapes. Obviously this appealed to me, because so much of my work is about the human figure in hardscape, and this abstraction provided a whole new creative opportunity.
I decided to create a photographic homage to this early work. My team and I shot in Berlin, over two days. I rarely do location work, so it was a wonderful change of pace for me. Most of this had to be done relatively guerilla-style. Although we did not need location permits, setting up a wardrobe truck was not an option, so my stylist would simply begin wrapping the models on site. Because it was summer, the tourists that walked around us made for a supportive audience, even if they couldn’t quite figure out the point of our photo shoot. We were wrapping naked women in itchy plastic on extremely hot summer days. Twice Berlin policemen stopped us to tell us that we really shouldn’t shoot here because technically it wasn’t allowed. Each time we asked to simply finish the image, and they were happy to help us, one even asking people in the background to step out of our frame for a couple of minutes. Gotta love Berlin!
After posting these pics to my Facebook Page, I was viciously attacked by a small group of people. Closer inspection showed that they were primarily offended because one location was the memorial of the fallen Soviet soldiers, and their respective Facebook profiles showed Cover Pictures of Che Guevara and other notable Communists, which leads me to believe their other accusations were intended primarily to provoke and insult.
The man wrote (in German)
“Ich habe mich mal drangemacht und mir den rest deiner fotos hier angeschaut und diese bestätigen auch mein urteil: brutal, aggressiv, frauenfeindlich, kitschig, romantisch (im deutschen sinne), anonymisierte gewalt, schlichtweg menschenfeindlich…”
“I’ve gone ahead and checked out the rest of your photos and they confirm my judgement: brutal, aggressive, woman-hating, kitschy, romantic (in the German sense), anonymous violence, simply misanthropic…”
I must admit I was flabbergasted. I can’t really defend myself against charges that are completely off-mark. And as much as I initially took a small pride in having my first group of Haters, I can’t help but notice that my lead opponent’s initial anger was directed at the model, whom he accused of deleting his post. He was wrong, his comments was still there, and it turned out to be a spurned suitor or ex-boyfriend who was stalking her.
Poor girl. As if laying wrapped in plastic on a hot summer day wasn’t enough to deal with…