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Christo and Jeanne Claude's The Gates

You have no doubt seen on TV Christo and Jeanne Claude's latest spectacle "The Gates" -- it is hard not to be impressed. Maybe you heard they were insulted by Letterman's invitation to the Late Show. Do not dismiss this pair as befuddled, aging over-achievers; they're paving the way to steal all our space.

May 2020: Aged 84, Christo the artist who wrapped the Reichstag in 1995 died of natural causes at his home in New York City.

Bloomberg Central Park Scandal

New York City airs its dirty, pretty laundry in the public space of Central Park

Robert Lederman

How big of a hypocrite are Mike Bloomberg and the Central Park Conservancy (CPC), the elitist sponsors of Christo's 23 mile long art installation, The Gates?

The Central Park Conservancy now operates at least 11 vending stands (six fixed stands and five mobile vending vans) in Central Park from which it is vending Christo tee-shirts, watches, baseball caps, postcards, posters and cheap reproductions. To verify this you can call Linda Blumberg, CPC coordinator for the Christo vending extravaganza at 212 310-6658.

Why is this significant?

It was the Central Park Conservancy which created the Parks Department artist-permit in 1998, one week after Mayor Giuliani turned over operation of the park to the CPC. They attempted to ban every NYC artists' free expression from all NYC parks based on the idea that street artists "commercialize" parks.

Mike Bloomberg is a leading member of the CPC and lives right across the street from the Park just a block from where hundreds of artists were arrested. Bloomberg is also a leading Christo collector as are many members of the CPC.

The first bill Mike Bloomberg proposed as Mayor in 2002 was Intro # 160, an artist- permit. If passed this would have recreated the exact same artist-permit seven different courts had previously struck down as illegal and Unconstitutional in Lederman et al v Giuliani. When it failed in 2003, Bloomberg reintroduced it as Intro #48.

For his entire time in public office Mike Bloomberg has continued to wage a vicious war against street artists that was started by Mayor Giuliani and the CPC, including daily illegal enforcement, daily harassment, false arrests and ongoing efforts to strip away the legal rights we won in the course of ten years of legal struggle.

Now it comes out that Bloomberg's beloved group of billionaire real estate developers, The Central Park Conservancy, didn't really object to art being vended in the Park. They just wanted to take over the art vending action in Central Park for themselves.

Why not? They already get a sizeable cut of the profits from every stale pretzel and soggy hotdog sold in Central Park and they charge corporations like Best Buy and Sony a cool million bucks to rent the Park for a one night concert. No wonder Bloomberg wouldn't let an anti GOP rally take place in the Park. They didn't pay off the right people with a million dollar "donation."

The Mayor claims Christo is paying for the entire Gates travesty himself. Ask Mayor Bloomberg who is paying for the hundreds of NYPD officers "guarding" Christo's precious gates round the clock. Are we expecting an Al Queda attack on the saffron- colored monstrosity or is making Central Park look like an occupied country just part of the corporate look Mike Bloomberg is bringing to NYC.

Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists' Response To Illegal State Tactics) 201.777.0391

Bloomberg's ConJob: The Gates

As the media slobbers over Christo's 23 mile long art installation in Central Park consider some facts that are being left out of the media coverage:

1. The Mayor claims Christo is funding the 21 million dollar cost of this project himself. Is he really that rich? Hardly. The reality is that the funding comes from the sale of preliminary sketches of the work, sold to exceptionally wealthy people like Mike Bloomberg who is a longtime Christo collector. Bloomberg and other super-wealthy members of the Central Park Conservancy (David Rockefeller, Chase Bank and all the top real estate developers) gave Christo a permit to install the work and bought the sketches at an undisclosed price in order to fund the project. In other words, the corporate sponsors who funded the project and gave it permission are doing so in order to benefit themselves, to increase the value of their own private art collections and to enhance their own social standing and prestige as "art collectors.'

2. Bloomberg and the Central Park Conservancy (CPC) are the exact same people who got Giuliani to create the Central Park artist-permit in 1998, who ordered the arrests of hundreds of artists, who appealed the rulings finding their permit illegal to seven different courts and who after losing the case tried to recreate the exact same permit by introducing Intro #160 as soon as Bloomberg was elected Mayor. What was their justification for getting rid of street artists? According to the CPC, Bloomberg and Park Commissioners we "congest" the Park and "commercialize" it. But isn't that exactly what Bloomberg-Christo are doing with The Gates?

3. Bloomberg and the CPC denied a permit to protestors at the time of the GOP convention claiming that a protest with 500,000 attendees would damage the Park. Few seemed to notice that the CPC had previously given permits to corporations like Disney, SONY and Best Buy for concerts with more than a million attendees, concerts that the CPC got a million dollar "donation" each time for allowing. Then they give Christo a permit to install 7,000 "gates" along 23 miles of park path and announce that they expect millions of people to come to the park to view it. In other words, if people come to the Park to engage in political speech it damages the Park but if they come to view corporate-sponsored art or attend a concert approved by Bloomberg and his wealthiest friends that's great.

4. Gates equal Kiosks?

Why would Bloomberg and the CPC want to introduce the idea of 7,000 giant metal gates installed in Central Park? Is there an agenda that has nothing to do with art? Because it desensitizes people to what's coming next, metal advertising kiosks all over City streets and in Parks. Christo's art project just happens to set the stage for the Street Furniture Initiative (SFI), a law proposed by Mike Bloomberg personally and passed by the City Council in 2004. In March Bloomberg will assign the contract for the installation of 4,000 sidewalk advertising billboards. For more than 20 years the CPC opposed The Gates, claiming it would damage the Park and deface it. Then, as Bloomberg proposed the SFI, they enthusiastically reversed themselves and gave a permit for The Gates. If you think it's all about art you are missing the real story of this cultural fiasco. It's all about advertising dollars, repressing freedom of speech and privatizing public space on behalf of the elite. Each gate is far bigger than each kiosk will be. How can you claim the kiosks will damage the Park or obstruct the sidewalk after you claimed the Gates were the seventh wonder of the world and got millions of people and the entire media to act as if they were a great blessing to NYC? Bloomberg is setting up the entire city. The "Gates" are the threshold for the end of all public space.

Christo threatens artist arrests

This Christo/Central Park Conservancy/Bloomberg fiasco is taking on some amazing twists.

Today, 2/17/05, a representative of Christo's German publisher informed street artists, photographers and art vendors around Central Park that they would be subject to arrest for selling any images of The Gates. I got the number of this person, Dr. Fils, and had a lengthy talk with him.

Christo's publisher claims a vast new degree of copyright and trademark protection. They claim they will prosecute anyone who sells their own original photos of The Gates; who makes and sells a drawing of The Gates or who even uses the words, The Gates, without their permission. They claim to have copyrighted the words, The Gates. They also claim to have an agreement with the media that media sources may only use news photos of the gates for the period the installation is up. That after that the media will only be allowed to use "official" photos of The Gates.

They also claim that all of Central Park is now "private property." Talk about privatization! Be sure to thank Christo, Bloomscrooge and the CPC. -- Lederman

The Reichstag

One of Christo and Jeanne Claude's previous enterprises was to wrap the Reichstag. I don't know if this is on private property or not.

It is hard to parody assholes who have so thoroughly parodied themselves. They claim to be making no political commentary and only to be creating grand, sweeping, ephemeral art.

Nonetheless, this is all a parody.