Christo Went Rafting on the River He Wants to Cover in Fabric

Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

New York-based artist Christo has spent more than a decade planning his massive Over the River project to drape nearly six miles of translucent, silvery fabric over a 42 mile stretch of the Arkansas river in Colorado, a piece that somelocals have opposed, and this week he took his first rafting trip down the river, Denver’s CBS4 reports. If and when it is completed, the temporary installation would look like shimmering expansion from above, and a shading scrim from below.

“It’s our first time enjoying rafting on the river,” Christo said, standing at the river’s edge. “We never went rafting on the river before, we were only crossing the river to work.”


Over The River Life-Sized Test For aesthetic and technical considerations, four life-size prototype tests were conducted in 1997, 1998 and 1999 on private property near the Colorado/Utah border.
Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © Christo 1999.

The project has been marred by opposition and federal lawsuits, most notably from the group Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR), which is suing the Bureau of Land Management for allegedly violating its own rules and federal laws when it signed off on the Over the River project in 2011. ROAR is expecting a hearing in its lawsuit against the BLM and Christo’s OTR Corporation late this summer or in the early fall.


Christo, Over The River, Project For The Arkansas River, State of Colorado Drawing (2007).
Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © Christo 2007.

In the meantime, Christo estimates that if the project finally gets the go-ahead, it will take some 28 months to install the necessary structures and enormous swaths of fabric over the river.

“We need to install many things, we need to install anchors for the cables,” Christo told CBS4. “We need at least three years before the exhibition.”

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