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‘Walking on Water’ Review: The Artist Christo Thinks Big, as Usual

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

Short on details but long on delight, “Walking on Water” follows the artist Christo as he creates one of his large-scale art installations.

This cinéma-vérité documentary centers on “The Floating Piers.” That project, an orange-hued, three-kilometer floating walkway on Lake Iseo in Northern Italy, had been planned for decades and was eventually built in 2016. Like the artist’s “Wrapped Reichstag” in Berlin in 1995 or “The Gates” in New York City’s Central Park in 2005, the work was dissembled shortly following its completion, this time after 16 days.

All of these ephemeral projects are “totally useless,” Christo says, declaring that the only reason he makes such things is because he enjoys seeing them. That disarming, pretension-free attitude runs throughout the film, save for a few scenes when problems arise and are soon overcome.

The director Andrey Paounov culled through hundreds of hours of footage, much of it shot by others, to assemble the documentary. There are no interviews, nor discussion of Christo’s creative partner and wife, Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009. Instead we spy on an artist who races around like a mad scientist, and who seems comically befuddled by technology. His passion is genuine, as is his sense of wonder.

With the immense effort that goes into “The Floating Piers,” you can’t help wanting to know more about its construction and funding, and about Christo’s life and background. But “Walking on Water” leaves those for you to research later. Like the artist and his work, this film lives in the now.

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