June 22, 2016
1976 - I read about it in the Chronicle and tore out the directions, borrowed a car and drove alone to Marin County to see the folly, the crazy Monty-Python-ness, the trickster's masterpiece, a 25-mile long white fabric fence, some of which you could see from country roads, much of which went over rolling hills westward out of sight, where no one could go - how weird is that? And then it went down to the Pacific Ocean, my ocean, and then - get this - it went out into the foam on the sea floor for like half a mile invisible. You can't see it, but you know it's there. You can't touch it, photograph it (I had no camera anyway, except my memory). It is there, and then 14 days later it is gone, materials donated to the farmers whose land it highlighted in the crossing. 25 miles long, 20 feet high: WHY, WHY, WHY?
And it's still there for me today because I saw it (and Ginsberg and Warhol in the next car), Running Fence has always been there invisible on those plain California hills, always will be in my imaginary, in every word and gesture, even when I forget it, because I saw it, I went there as a pilgrim
to get what I need. Running Fence over my hills into my ocean over the creases in my brain, and moving, walking, slithering into the sea and under the sea and up on the beach at Iwo Jima and across Mongolia and quaint little Europe (I wave at it in passing) and back under water and on and on. I will always have Running Fence because I saw it as I saw lots of things (the snow plant, the baobab, fireworks in Mexico) after that in the same intense way, and I touched the fabric and the aluminum structure with my hand, as I touched the madness of Jeanne-Claude and Christo (which one?) who sold everything they had and paid for it all themselves to give me the truth and the joy. What a surreal divider between North and South, before and after, between me blind and lost and me slapped awake and put on the path to Canada or Valhalla or anywhere that chooses me (Sicily even).
Dreamland, Fantasyland, Wonderland - Everywhere is the same with a Fence running through pointing the way to something that still needs to be discovered, too deep for words, too strong for the senses, beyond, out there, other, beyond, perhaps where paradise is. Is that no gain, no purpose, unreal or real? The most fabulous foolish whatever of my entire life.
2005 - The Gates. Wow. Passing through each one I felt like a different person. Blessed and humbled.
2016 - Yesterday. A dream, in two weeks I'll wake up and it'll be gone. Poof, game over. Unreal, yet I walked on it, felt it with my bare feet, I laid down and looked at the sky, felt the sun, smiling, for the absurdity, the pointlessness. Don't give it a definition, a reason; it wasn't reasonable, it was nothing, a mirage, a miracle, a practical joke, a concrete dream witnessed by many (liars) photographed to death (all fakes). I felt it underfoot, weaving and waving, a membrane that could break or vanish, moving gently to rock me back to sleep, to see beautiful things with no purpose but joy, a world of Dr Seuss and Sal Dali', of children's nonsense rhymes and psychedelic drug trips - I did take the trip one whole day to get there and one back for art, which is nothing yet everything. Hey, check this out!
It's not money or language or world domination or the destruction of nature that renders us human, it is this, doing what would have no meaning to another animal. "Ridiculous," Christo called it, and he waved back to me from on the barge as if to say, "You get it." You get the 15 million dollar joke, the 46 years of work (by Jeanne-Claude and Christo), the orange cloth and floats, lots of each, but really only the idea - no sponsors, no corporations, no tickets, no grants, no volunteers, no souvenirs, no exploitation, no charge - just give what you can, just give yourself, give up, give in, come and be, be as you and it just are, not are something, just are ... The Floating Piers.
Me and you are not reasonable, we are alive and then we're not. We all will vanish in two weeks. So whoever sees the lake now streaked in saffron and then after as usual will always have the orange walkway burnt into the retina. It will always be there even if maybe it never was there (I'm still not sure), and therefore the experiencer will never see the lake again as a body of water but as a dreamscape, as anything could be, as everything is, you and me too, and all we see is different when we learn to look.
Floating Piers may be nothing, but it teaches how to look. Those orange strips could have not been walkable - ok, it still works - or it could have been in the desert or in your bedroom or on the moon or on Wall Street, it would still make us look at our surroundings in awe, from a new angle, as if everything is a work of art (the worn crosstie I stared at from the train before it started off). North, South, East, West - Art everywhere, indistinguishable. And we are all inside every work, not observing, but one with constructed piers and the natural lake, the island, the people, the swans, the hills, sky and sun, all. We are all on the Floating Piers and in the Floating Piers and in the beautiful dream. Oh, thank you, Christo (and Jeanne-Claude), you have awakened my eyes, my nostils, ears, bare feet, you have saved me, to a degree, from a life of dreary monotony and ugliness, fighting and pettiness, hand to mouth, thank you for touching my heart, back then in 1976 and now and forever or until I'm recycled too.
So, where were you yesterday?
Happy trials, Martin
Mutt and Jeff are on a train going to Sulzano/Lago d'Iseo. They left me a note, "Gone fishing."