Bulgarian-born artist Christo has unveiled his latest work, dubbed “Big Air Package,” which is billed as the largest indoor sculpture created to date. Whether the claim is true or not, the installation is most certainly a significant feat of engineering in its own right. Big Air Package is installed in Germany’s Gasometer Oberhausen, and almost fills the cavernous space of an empty gas tank, the inflated envelope being 90 meters (295 feet) high, and 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter.
Christo (a mononym, like Cher and Prince) is best known as half of the husband-and-wife artistic duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Previous designs by the pair have polarized opinion, with the covering of Germany’s Reichstag building in material acting as a good example of the large-scale which typified their output. Sadly, Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 and this work represents the artist’s first solo appearance since the loss.
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Big Air Package is actually the second installation by Christo to appear at the Gasometer Oberhausen, following 1999‘s “The Wall,” which featured 13,000 empty oil barrels spanning the distance from wall to wall of the Gasometer.
Big Air Package was conceived in 2010, and required 20,350 square meters (219,000 square feet) of semi-transparent polyester fabric, in addition to 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) of rope.It has a total weight of 5.3 tons (5.8 U.S. tons), and a volume of 177,000 cubic meters (6,250 cubic feet).
The sculpture almost fills the Gasometer, with only a small passage remaining to allow visitors to walk around the periphery. Two air fans are employed to maintain a constant pressure of 27 pascal (0.27 millibar) in order keep the balloon-like “package” upright. Visitors who wish to enter inside Big Air Package are required to first pass through an airlock.
Those who access to the interior of Big Air Package are met with a great white space, occupied with diffuse light generated by skylights and 60 projectors. The artist himself likens the experience to stepping within a light-filled cathedral.
Big Air Package runs until December 30, 2013, at the Oberhausen Gasometer, in Oberhausen, Germany.
The video below documents the construction of Big Air Package.