I’ve been dying to do some wrapping. I’ve long admired the colossal work of Christo, and (ambitiously) that’s what I want to try next. I dreamed of wrapping entire buildings until they billowed with silk, but reality bit: my plan was flawed as I would never gain access to a bridge. And so - there being no Reichstag readily available - I had to settle for wrapping a chair.
Before beginning, I asked my friend James, who reminded me about the practice of wrapping by choosing an excellent shrouded object as his facebook profile picture. I asked for his advice, but it’s a library shot of a statue being transported, although he does have a wrapping qualification, albeit to do with conservation. Neither of us know much about, or have shown any prior talent for rapping (getting that gag out of the way) and so I will wrap alone.
I am currently on the road, and in preparation, borrowed some toilet paper from my pensione (which is like Fawlty Towers relocated to Hoxha’s Albania) and brought out the muslin I am using later to sew on. FYI: you should be grateful you aren’t my sherpa – I packed a rucksack full of art-supplies which makes me walk with a stoop.
There was a chair in my ‘pensione’ (I am shuddering at the horror, the horror of that pensione) which was crying out for a fresh lease of life as an art object. I was contemplating its undeniable and majestic serenity when a cheery ‘HOLA!’ intruded. It was the cleaner, who graphically and effectively mimed ‘do you need any more bog-roll?’ and in reply I gesticulated: ‘I’ve plenty thanks for asking.’
But that chair looks lonely. Perhaps I am anthropomorphising a chair, but it does suggest a past life. The varnish is chipped and yellowing. The plastic cover is worn. The toilet paper doesn’t look right; too obvious and clumsily symbolic. Muslin is the way forward. I mummify a sad old chair, which sits in the sunbeams blazing through the window. We have both been in better places.
Wrapping is like dressing an artefact in different clothes. Wrapping bestows an object with new layers, making the viewer look afresh. When hard edges dissolve, we seek clues in an anonymous bundle of covers as our preconceptions are seen at another angle. What’s angular and harsh becomes smooth, and unknown.
It’s impossible to look at objects wrapped in muslin and not think of mummies, those vainglorious attempts by pharaohs to become immortal, a visual echo I appreciate, along with a remembrance of crepe bandages. I wish I could have placed the chair outside to record the entire process, but think the hotel would have objected (anyway: my room was four flights up with no lift.)
I think I will return to wrapping objects, but ideally with more space, and better materials. I knew that length of muslin would come in handy, although I have yet to use my value pack of J-cloths. Give me time people, as I might be heading to
, and the Reichstag beckons. Berlin