Walking on Water – An uncensored look into the artistic process and personal relationships of Christo, an artist known for his large-scale installations. For the first time since the passing of his wife and partner, Jeanne-Claude, Christo sets out to realize, The Floating Piers, a project they conceived together many years before.

Walking on Water (2018)
Director: Andrey Paounov
Stars: Christo
Genre: Documentary, Adventure, Comedy, History
Country: Italy, Germany, United Arab Emirates, United States
Language: English
Release Date: August 10, 2018 (Locarno Film Festival)
Filming Location: Italy

„Walking on Water is an unvarnished look at the logistical nightmare that is one of artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monumental environmental installations. The first large scale project since the passing of his artistic and life partner, Jeanne-Claude, the film follows Christo through the last planning stages and execution of the project, The Floating Piers. The project, conceived over 40 years before, was to be a floating walkway leading to an island in the middle of Lake Iseo in Italy. Meant to imitate the illusion of walking on water.

The film gives an inside look into the volatile world of fine art. Driven by artists with vision, halted by the need for means to bring that vision to life. Christo and Jeanne-Claude conceived many large scale works, but only a fraction were ever realized. They refused to use public funds of any kind to fund their work. Instead, all of the funds needed were raised through the sale of their own artwork. In one scene we see a man come to a makeshift gallery to purchase one such work, from a selection of visualizations of The Floating Piers drawn by Christo himself. Prices are thrown about, $200,000 here, $1 million there. The buyer is put out that the prices are over double what they were the day before, but Christo’s assistant forcibly explains why. In another scene Christo visits the private island his piers surround to mingle with the elitist collectors of art. They surround him with their pitiful attempts to connect with their revered genius of the art world.

Christo himself strikes a fascinating figure. His staunch refusal to sit down. His assistant and him constantly repeating, „I don’t sit.” His meticulous taping of the seams on his luggage, whose purpose we can only guess. His near total meltdowns when anything gets in the way of his artistic process, amusingly captured in one scene where he is lecturing to a group of school children. He wants to draw a simple diagram, but can’t get the classrooms smart board to work. Defaulting to pen and paper, he is stopped from using a permanent marker for fear it would bleed through onto the smart board. In another scene yelling and complaing about a bit of chain, unfit for his project, but why known only to him.

In Christo we see a man who wants to have total control over his work. Someone who has spent years pondering and agonizing over every detail of his work, only to be faced with the reality that his vision cannot be accomplished by him alone. Scores of people must be involved. Meetings upon meetings that he himself is detached and disinterested from as it does not pertain directly to his work, but having to appease at every turn. Persevering until he walks through his vision, now willed into reality.

The Floating Piers would be Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s penultimate work while either of them lived. After The London Mastaba, Christo continued working on projects, but sadly died in 2020 just after L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was delayed due to the global pandemic. According to their website, „Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their artworks in progress be continued after their deaths.” The film ends in the desert near Abu Dhabi, the site of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s final work, The Mastaba. Planned to be the largest sculpture in the world, larger even than the Great Pyramid of Giza, it will be the only permanent installation of their work. As Christo walks through the dessert with a scale model of The Mastaba we see a man who has never looked back, but always looking forward.”
– written by „Mrs. Darcy” on letterboxd.com

Also Known As (AKA):
(original title) Walking on Water
Greece Περπατώντας πάνω στο νερό
Italy Christo – Walking on Water
Japan クリスト ウォーキング・オン・ウォーター(Japanese)


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