The Gates | Chicago Reader

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Made between 1979 and 2005, this 96-minute documentary about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's “Gates” installation in Manhattan's Central Park was the sixth time the environmental artists commissioned David and Albert Maysles to document one of their massive urban projects (the best known of which may have been wrapping Paris's Pont-Neuf). The married couple financed their own construction of 23 miles of framed orange fabric threaded through the park but failed to get the city's permission to proceed in 1979; Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave them the go-ahead 25 years later, and the project went up for two weeks in February 2005. The arguments for and against it often seem equally arcane. Raised in communist Bulgaria, Christo insisted on pursuing the project to please himself, denying any social aim, yet this engaging account arguably focuses more on New York as a complex social organism than on the artwork.

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