The internationally – and often controversial - acclaimed artist Christo has unveiled the “largest indoor sculpture ever made”. Prepared to debut in a public exhibition starting March 16, the inflated “Big Air Package” has been designed to occupy a 117-meter-tall former gas tank known as Gasometer Oberhausen in Germany. The 90-meter-high, 50-meter-wide sculpture is made from 20,350 square meters of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters of rope, with a total weight of 5.3 tons and a volume of 177,000 cubic meters.
The seemingly endless, inflatable installation was conceived in 2010 and is Christo’s first major work after the passing of his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude in 2009.
“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.”
“When the Big Air Package was finally installed, it was absolutely unexpected what I saw. The fabric very much transports the light. You are virtually swimming in light when you are inside the Big Air Package,” the 77-year-old artist describes his latest work of art, which is the first one realized without his late wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude. “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.”
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.