Two years on from the unveiling of Christo and Jeanne Claude’s monumental Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (1961-2021), the work will get a new lease of life. Paris mayor, Anne Hildago, announced this week that the structure will be recycled and repurposed for future use in the city, including “shade structures, tents or barnums” for the French capital’s 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games. “This is a very fine example of the art world’s ability to adapt to climate challenges,” Hildago said in a statement.
The effort is being led by the environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans, which has also collaborated with the sunglass makers Clean Waves on upcycling projects, as well as the sportswear brand Adidas on developing the company’s sustainability goals. Parley for Oceans will specifically be working on recycling the 25,000 sq m of silvery-blue polypropylene fabric and the 3,000 meters of red polypropylene rope used to make the work.
The wood and steel in the artwork have already been distrubuted and reused by the carpentry cooperative Les Charpentiers de Paris, the steel producers ArcelorMittal and Derichebourg Environnement, which processes recycling for municipal and local authorities.
In a statement, the founder and chief executive of Parley for Oceans described the Arc de Triomphe work as, “A flag of rebellion. An encouragement that seemingly impossible ideas can become a reality”. He describes the current project as a testament of “a new economy where harmful, toxic and exploitative business practices are a relic of the past”.
Indeed, Christo’s ephemeral works were often created with the intention of being dismantled and recycled. This included the floating structure exhibited on Italy’s Lake Iseo, The Floating Piers (2014-2016), which was processed by the German recycling company Al-tex to make needle felt as well as material for riding rings. “The particles of textile stabilise the surface, so the horses’ don’t break their hooves in the sand,” the company’s managing director Karsten Stienemann explained to DW at the time.
Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was completed shortly after the artist’s death in 2020. Christo and Jeanne Claude’s studio is currently working on completing a work conceived in 1977, The Mastaba, which will go on show in Abu Dhabi. The work takes inspiration from Islamic architecture and will be “the largest contemporary sculpture (in volume) in the world”, according to a project statement.