Thursday, 14 February 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: $254m worth of art as environmental intervention


I was interested to read this story from the New York Sun about Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson's plan to create giant waterfalls in the East River. They will be free-standing pillars of water, up to 60ft in height.

The bit that intrigued me were the figures given for the costs and benefits of staging these kind of giant artworks. According to the paper, a source estimated that the cost of the waterfall project could be between $9m and $11m.

You might not be that surprised at this ginormous sum, but despite
the price, the benefits to the city might be even bigger. The
city's economic development supremos reckon that 2005's amazing red Gates
in Central Park, by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, attracted one and a half
million extra out-of-town visitors and earned city businesses an
incredible $254m.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude paid for the Gates themselves, so the fact
that NYC is now considering shelling out for the waterfalls shows that
the city understands the economic value of these large-scale projects.
There are exciting possibilities ahead for artists who blend the world
of art, architecture and landscape together like this.

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