Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin, 1986, 56 min
For two brief weeks in May of 1983, Christo and
Jeanne-Claude's piece entitled Surrounded Islands blossomed
on the waters of Biscayne Bay, Florida. Eleven scrub-
pine islands were surrounded by 6.5 million square
feet of bright pink fabric. A three-year struggle, a
work of art; a political drama interwoven with two
other projects-in-progress; the wrapping of the
Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin.
This film goes beyond art. In each one of their
projects, Christo and Jeanne-Claude fuse country,
culture, and economics. Instead of museums, their
mammoth 'sculptures' need space...and people.
Their works are collective efforts, designed to
evolve with community input. From raucous public
debates with Miami officials to a private tour of
Christo's studio with politico Willy Brandt; from
intimate discussions with Jacques Chirac, the
Mayor of Paris, to frantic boat rides between
islands during the final unfurling. The artists are
at work, probing, politicking, debating the meaning
of art-- creating the social impact that gives each
project its strength.
Then comes the crescendo: Christo's first flight
over the completed project, a parade of water lilies
in the Bay. An unrepeatable moment, unmatchable
energy... art history in the making.
In the film, Christo discusses the work. "Most artists
do work that they hope will last for one hundred years,
even thousands. But my projects are purely poetical
gestures, like rainbows that appear and then are gone.
They are the ultimate temporary: I come to a space
and I disturb it to make people readjust, re-examine
their senses. Then I leave. All I ask of them is to have
pleasure, to be surprised."
“ISLANDS did a number on the senses… a wryly funny and ultimately beautiful film… Splendid·”
— Bill Cosford, THE MIAMI HERALD
Premiered at Miami’s Gusman Theater
Blue Ribbon, American Film and Video Festival 1987
Official Selection, Munich Film Festival
Official Selection, Rotterdam Film Festival
Official Selection, US Film Festival