Christo's 'Mastaba' artwork to grace London's Serpentine again – virtually

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Visitors to Hyde Park can now experience The London Mastaba, created by the artist Christo, in augmented reality on their mobile phones.

The London Mastaba was a temporary, colourful sculpture that floated on the Serpentine Lake for three months in 2018. Nearby was an exhibition of Christo’s work that he undertook with his long-time artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009.

Organisers said it was an opportunity to share the last piece of public work realised in Christo’s lifetime, before he passed away in May this year.

“Christo and Jeanne-Claude were truly extraordinary artists. Art for them was not a profession but their existence,” said Bettina Korek, the Serpentine Galleries’ chief executive, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, its artistic director.

“Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s genius exists in the transfer between the irrepressible ephemerality of their work and the indelible memories each project produced in everyone who experienced them. It is an honour to present this project as an everlasting, virtual translation of their otherworldly vision,” they added.

The virtual London Mastaba will be an exact replica of the physical structure installed in 2018. Organisers said it is best experienced from the north bank of the lake, opposite the Serpentine Lido. In conjunction with the Acute Art phone app, viewers will also be able to “place and interact with the piece” without the need to travel to London.

“The democratising power of new immersive media will bring Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s unique artistic vision to wide and diverse audiences across the globe. And it is always a joy to collaborate with the extraordinary team at the Serpentine Galleries,” Daniel Birnbaum, the artistic director of Acute Art, said.

Christo with his new Mastaba installation at the Serpentine Gallery in London's Hyde Park. Gustavo Valiente / The National

The London mastaba is made out of 7,506 barrels - the proposed one for Abu Dhabi would be crafted from 410,000 barrels. Gustavo Valiente / The National

A collage, 1979, showing how The Mastaba would appear in the Liwa Desert. Wolfgang Volz

The artist Christo, centre, meets with Liwa residents Khalfan Al Qubasi, left, Saeed Al Falahi, right, and Obaid Al Mazrouei, front right, in October 2012, to discuss his plans to construct The Mastaba, a pyramid of 410,000 barrels. Antonie Robertson / The National

A close-up look at the red, blue and pink floating structure in London. Gustavo Valiente / The National

A drawing of The Mastaba from 2010 by Christo. Andre Grossman

Christo, in the white suit, explaining the preliminary engineering concept for The Mastaba to officials of the Ministry of Construction. Wolfgang Volz

Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for The Mastaba. Christo and the Maeght Foundation

Artist Christo, 83, with his new installation at the Serpentine Gallery in London on Sunday June 24. He is thought to be one of the world's richest living artists. Gustavo Valiente / The National

Christo and Jeanne-Claude looking for a possible site for The Mastaba in 1982. Wolfgang Volz

Artist Christo with his new installation at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The word mastaba means 'mud bench' in Arabic, a place for sitting and conversation originating from the historical region of Mesopotamia. Gustavo Valiente / The National

The original London Mastaba was inspired by the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia and was made up of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform. It weighed more than 600 tonnes and covered roughly one per cent of the Serpentine Lake.

Updated: July 8, 2020 09:32 PM

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