i want the word i use to mimic the feeling i had, and while it doesn't come close enough, "magnanimous" is the best i've got so far for christo and jeanne claudes' "the gates." not perfect, but it brings together the real joy i felt — and could see in others — from the accessibility of the piece, its shared and sharing nature, the palpable sense of the artists' desire to bring people together in a new and different and yet known and comforting way; along with the sheer scale of the project, the amount of effort and planning required to bring into being something so huge, so precise, so perfect and complete and sturdy and yet so utterly, utterly banal and mundane. it's a very open work, a very communal piece, a true gift. i was floored, not just at first but throughout, from the initial sighting to the last. it is a complete and beautiful thing.
in an odd way, it reminded me of burning man — the only other occasion i know of where people are drawn together so intentionally. where people come together to quietly celebrate being people, together. as courtney pointed out while we were there, it's so rare that you end up in large crowds and enjoy the experience of being within, but that's what the work offers, and that's the response it evokes.
it goes without saying that pictures don't do it justice, because it's the environment as much as anything else that's the essence of the work, qualities that cameras don't capture. so if you can find a way, you should hop on a train or a bus or a plane or get in a car with some friends and spend some time with them in central park in the next two weeks. as much time as you can spare. there might be a better reason to cross the country for a weekend, but if so i don't know what it is. i'm just sad — more than sad, almost an ache — that i can't be there for the entire month, so that i could begin every day underneath them, while they're still there.