The Gates chronicles the evolution and controversy of one of the largest public installations in history. In 1979, environmental artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, proposed to install a “golden river” of 7,503 fabric-panelled gates in Central Park. Released for the first time in the UK, Antonia Ferrera and Albert Maysles’ film follows the artists’ twenty-six year commitment to transform the winter darkness of the iconic park into a garden of light and colour.
Originally rejected, the project generated huge controversy, ensuring battles waged both amongst the people of New York and a media hungry for sensation. After decades of wrangling Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s twenty-three miles of saffron-coloured vinyl gates was approved in 2003, and at a cost of $21 million opened in February 2005. The Gates attracted over 4 million people from around the world before the installation closed just two weeks later.
The Gates is a landmark film weaving together behind-the-scenes footage of the artists’ early meetings and public hearings to promote the project, in addition to archive material and stunning shots of Central Park to show the installation’s journey. The artists became iconic after wrapping the Reichstag in Germany, and since the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, there has been a renewed appreciation of their visually impressive and often controversial art.