CHRISTO: BIG AIR PACKAGE — from March 16 until December 30, 2013
18 years after the wrapping of the Reichstag and 14 years after the installation “The Wall“, Christo has returned to Germany with an extraordinary art project. The internationally acclaimed artist fills the Oberhausen Gasometer with his Big Air Package – the largest indoor sculpture in the world.
“Big Air Package, Project for Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany” was conceived in 2010 by Christo and is on view from March 16 to December 30, 2013. The sculpture, which is installed inside the former gas tank, was made from 20,350 square meters of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters of rope. The inflated envelope is more than 90 meters high and 50 meters in diameter. It has a total weight of 5.3 tons and a volume of 177,000 cubic meters.
The “Big Air Package” nearly spans the distance from wall to wall of the Gasomter, leaving only a small passage to walk around the sculpture. Two air fans creating a constant pressure of 27 pascal (0.27 millibar) keep the package upright. Airlocks allow visitors to enter the package. Illuminated through the skylights of the Gasometer and 60 additional projectors, the work of art creates a diffuse light throughout the interior. Inside the sculpture, an extraordinary experience of shape, space and light is provided.
“The inner space is probably the most unique aspect of all the Air Packages that we did since 1966. When experienced from the inside, that space is almost like a 90-meter-high cathedral”, the artist describes his latest work of art, which is the first one realized without his late wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude. Christo and Jeanne-Claude realized their first sculpture involving air in 1966 in the Dutch town of Eindhoven. Their last air package was erected at documenta IV in Kassel in 1968. It stood 85 meters tall, with a diameter of 10 meters and a volume of 5,600 cubic meters.
Retrospective exhibition spanning five decades
“Big Air Package” is accompanied by an additional exhibition in the ground floor of the Gasometer, which will show a selection of the most important projects Christo and Jeanne-Claude realized during the last five decades at various places around the world. Large-sized photographs, films and sketches revive those fascinating but always temporary works of art. The many photographs by Wolfgang Volz show the projects’ beauty and visionary approach. Christo: “All interpretations of our works are legitimate, but there is no purpose other than to create something beautiful.”
“The Wall” and the “Big Air Package”
In 1999, Christo and Jeanne-Claude created their first indoor installation for the Gasometer Oberhausen: a wall made from 13,000 oil barrels, 26 meters high and spanning the distance from wall to wall of the Gasometer. The mosaic of colored barrels left a huge impression on the visitors, who entered the dark gas tank. The Gasometer Oberhausen, Europe’s highest exhibition space, is the first location selected by Christo twice for realizing a work of art.
Christo‘s original designs in the LUDWIGGALERIE in Schloss Oberhausen
During the period of the exhibition, seven original design drawings of the Big Air Package will be on display in the cabinet of the LUDWIGGALERIE in Schloss Oberhausen. These predominantly large-format works provided the model for the Big Air Package. They were produced in Christo‘s New York studio and show the development of the idea during the years 2010 up to its implementation in 2013. The LUDWIGGALERIE in Schloss Oberhausen can be reached easily at a short walking distance from the Oberhausen Gasometer.
Wolfgang Volz, who helped realizing many of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s past projects, is the project director for the „Big Air Package“; Peter Pachnicke is the curator of the retrospective exhibition.