In a stunning move to circumvent environmental regulations and funding challenges, the Bush Administration has commissioned artist Christo Javacheff to complete construction of the controversial 470-mile fence along the Mexican border. Funds for the gargantuan project will be administered through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
NEA Chairman Dana Gioia announced the $50 billion grant, largest in the Endowment’s history, as part of the new “Art in Alien Places” program on April 1. The grant will be matched by a similar amount to be raised through cocktail parties co-hosted by the artist’s wife Jeanne-Claude and First Lady Laura Bush. Earlier plans to use completed fence segments for the Donald Rumsfeld Celebrity Squash Tournament were vetoed by the artist.
Bulgarian-Born artist Christo (like Zorro and Newt, he is known by one name) is famed for creation of monumental works like the Great Curtain of Rifle Valley (above, right), The Gates of Central Park, the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and many others. Asked about expected opposition to the plan from the U.S. Congress, the artist is rumored to have replied: “I wrapped the Reichstag in fabric and twine; something similar can be arranged for Congress, something recycled and slimy, perhaps.”
Rumors of the new arrangement first surfaced when Christo and Jeanne-Claude were seen comparing color swatches with area ranchers, members of the U.S. Border Patrol, and elders of the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. Mexico’s Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA) has protested to the U.S. State Department that it was not consulted about the project, and is highly-offended that the color scheme will blend shades of mauve and rust rather than bright pastels.
Advocates for undocumented immigrants have protested that this new work is yet another example of U.S. Cultural Imperialism and have called for donations of millions of spray paint cans to convert the completed fence into Bienvenudos a El Republico de Aztlan, the world’s longest vernacular mural.
Inspiring image (and rumors) mashed-up by Mike Licht on or about April 1, 2008.