It's A Wrap At The Reichstag

Last Weekend Christo's Crew Of Rock climbers and construction workers was putting the finishing touches on the wrapped Reichstag. After lobbying the Bonn Parliament for 23 years for approval, after spending perhaps $10 million (being raised by the sale of the project's drawings and prints), the Bulgarian-born New York artist, 60, saw the once and future home of German democracy almost completely swathed in more than a million square feet of rippling silver polypropylene fabric. By the time the packaging comes off on July 6, an estimated 5 million people will have gazed at Christo's handiwork. Bookseller Ute Delius from Konstanz says, "It's beautiful. I wish it would stay mapped forever." Berlin pensioner Lieselotte Wiesner concurs: "We [Germans] get to enter the history books with something nice." Christo and his wife/collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, claim that the process of getting popular and official consent to cloak monuments is part and parcel of their art. "We're not just wrapping a building. We are wrapping German angst, German pride," Christo says.

Certainly, Germans will be nudged to reconsider the meaning of the Reichstag--completed in 1894, torched (probably by the Nazis, who blamed it on the Communists) in 1933 and nearly destroyed during World War II. It's Mated to be restored as the capitol of a reunited Germany by 1999. But the art part is a different matter. Christo started wrapping tin cans in 1958 and worked his way up to the Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985. The supershroudings have been pretty much the same 1960s game played out on different models. With the Reichstag done, why not just issue a "Wrap This!" interactive CD-ROM and let everyman be his own Christo?

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