The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Northern Italy!

A walk on water

The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Northern Italy


If you want to live the experience of walking on a floating pier, in an amazing landscape surrounding you, in one of the most beautiful countries, I’m afraid you can’t, unless you have discovered a way to travel back in time!! The installation of artist Cristo Vladimirov Javacheff in Lake Iseo is not there anymore, since its life was scheduled to last between June 18th and July 3rd of 2016.


Cristo is an artist that through his active years has created some emblematic installations around the world with his wife Jean-Claude Marie Denat, who passed away on 2009. Although Cristo’s wife is not present to see this last endeavor, the idea of this floating catwalk dates back to the 70’s, where it was conceived by the couple.

Like every other project the two artists have created, the floating piers where open to the public, in order for everyone to be able to access them. Visitors could walk a total of 3 kilometers starting from the village of Sulzano and ending to the small island of San Paolo. Pedestrians walk from Sulzano through water to Pesciera Maraglio on the Monte Isola and again through water to San Paolo.


A third pier was made to connect the village of Sensole on Monte Isola with San Paolo. Well, that must have been a hell of work to do for the whole project to be completed. Almost 220.000 cubes of plastic were put together in order to create the piers and 100.000 square meters of yellow-orange cloth were produced to wrap this 3km walkway, which is a trademark for the two artists throughout their works.

As someone can imagine, the engineering challenge of this effort was quite difficult to solve, not to mention the dozens of workers employed to complete it. The cloth continues also on land, on the streets of Sulzano and some of the plastic cubes on the edges of the piers were filled with water so that they were slopped. Thus, the public can either walk, or take a dive in the lake easily.

The question raised here is whether this is art. If it isn’t, what is it? Is it an architectural project, or some kind of urban planning? The answer is that although it looks very similar to an architectural drawing on an urban scale from above, it does not serve any particular need of the area and citizens around it. Additionally, it had a very short lifespan and probably was in the way of those having a boat and had to take the western route around the Monte Isola to reach their destination. Taking all the above into consideration, I must conclude that this is definitely a piece of art, a very large and expensive piece of art. So, what does it do? What is it for? “It does nothing, it is useless” Cristo said to a reporter.


The whole meaning of art is not to be useful in some obvious way. In my point of view, art is there to transform, comfort, uplift, inspire or even enrage and disgust us. Art is about transcending boundaries and giving food for thought. There are many contradicting perspectives concerning what is art or not, but I strongly believe that whether someone likes a piece of art or not is quite irrelevant. When you observe a painting, a sculpture or participate in an installation, such as the floating piers, the main event is the experience that you receive and the emotions that are provoked by this interactive procedure. The great contribution of art is making us human again by stirring and agitating our emotions.

-by Spyr_s Margetis


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