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  • Now, to describe the process of the Wrapped Reichstag, which went from 1971 to '95, there is an entire book about that, because each one of our projects has its own book. The book is not an art book, meaning it's not written by an art historian. Our work is a scream of freedom.

    For Christo, the very process of moving a project through the political system becomes its own kind of artwork, and intimately related to the ultimate work.

    Wrapping the Reichstag became an ongoing international public inquiry and dialogue asking the question: “What is art?” The final work itself incorporated by reference everything that it took to pull this off, and magnificently so.

    In “Running Fence” which trailed its 25-mile long white canvas banner across the farms and ranches of Marin County, the project was as much about all of the permits, conversations, relationships, and obstacles overcome as it was about creating a beautiful living sculpture in time and space which could be seen from satellites.

    In this sense, artists like Christo and his partner, Jean-Claude, expand our sense of what it means to ‘do art.’ To do art in today’s complex society often can mean coming face to face with police, bureaucracies, fascist politicians, and governments themselves. In doing this, significant issues of freedom of expression are posed, personal lives are put on the line, and liberty is tested, often under the most insane and surreal conditions imaginable, as David Carlson’s “Art Police” story shows.

    In an earlier post here in Cowbird, in which I discussed art as “language about culture,” this whole process described by Carlson fits into the Christo model of “art as political and social process.” And it is in this process that art becomes most relevant, and capable of igniting powerful social change. Marcel Duchamp once said that the artist “points a finger” at things we need to be looking at. The whole bizarre “cardboard saga” points a finger at just how idiotic it is to try and suppress legitimate social protest.

    Moral: Don’t mess with artists and writers, because they will come back and bite you every time.

    Carlson’s encounter with the enforcers is not just about the cardboard signs, or even what is on the signs, but it is also about the fact that the art is challenged, restricted, forbidden and legally prosecuted ,,, THIS is the meta-statement, the core of the art here. The very process which Carlson willingly enters into, and which he documents, is at the core of the larger OCCUPY Movement’s protest of our culture being taken over by Big Brother, Big Banking, and Big Lobbies.

    As it is well said in the law: RES IPSA LOQUITOR. The thing speaks for itself.

    And in this, lies its value.

    OCCUPY! Poster #165, digital collage by Alex, from OCCUPY! archive:
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